The Florida governor isn’t even officially running for president yet, but new polls and negative news cycles show him falling behind former President Donald Trump.
Ron DeSantis Has a Polling Issue
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida hasn’t announced that he’s running for president, although most expect him to announce his candidacy later this spring. This week, there’s been a series of bad news stories about the aspiring candidate.
Per New York Times polling analyst Nate Cohn, Ron DeSantis “has steadily lost ground against Mr. Trump, whose own numbers have increased” in recent weeks.
Cohn pointed out, as he has before, that the polls of the Republican race have been wildly divergent from one another, mostly because they use different methodologies, ask questions in different ways, and include different numbers of candidates.
But Cohn demonstrated that the same pollsters, over time, have shown Trump’s lead over DeSantis growing.
“Over the last two months, we’ve gotten about a dozen polls from pollsters who had surveyed the Republican race over the previous two months,” Cohn wrote. “These polls aren’t necessarily of high quality or representative, so don’t focus on the average across these polls. It’s the trend that’s important, and the trend is unequivocal: Every single one of these polls has shown Mr. DeSantis faring worse than before, and Mr. Trump faring better.”
The analyst shared some potential reasons why: The effects of the midterm elections, in which DeSantis won a landslide re-election victory while many Trump-backed candidates lost, have faded over time. Also, Trump has been attacking DeSantis frequently, while the governor has not returned fire. And of course, there’s the small matter that Trump is actually actively running for president, while DeSantis has not declared yet.
Of course, this could all change, especially if Trump is indicted, or if DeSantis gets a significant bump once he actually announces his candidacy.
But in recent days, most of the headlines about DeSantis have been bad. On Thursday, a federal appeals court blocked DeSantis’ “Stop Woke Act,” agreeing with the ruling of a lower court and calling the law “positively dystopian.”
Also this week DeSantis, who lacks experience with foreign policy, drew some fire from his own party for seeming to denigrate the idea of continuing to help Ukraine.
Top Republicans in the Senate slammed DeSantis’ recent comments about Ukraine, in which he warned about the U.S. “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia.”
“I was kind of surprised. I mean, Governor DeSantis is a veteran. He’s a smart guy. I think he’s been a very good governor. And I just I don’t understand him saying that Ukraine isn’t important to the United States,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, per ABC News. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also criticized DeSantis for the Ukraine comments.
Also, there was the “pudding incident.”
The Daily Beast published a piece this week stating that the governor “struggles with basic social skills,” often keeping to himself at political events.
The piece added that Ron DeSantis’ “aloof public persona” is seen as a vulnerability, especially from Trump’s team.
The Beast article also said that organizations seeking to invite the governor to events in early primary states have been “working to DeSantis-proof their events,” and that his team has been less-than-responsive. There has also been grumbling about DeSantis being standoffish with the media and granting few interview requests.
Also revealed in the Daily Beast story? DeSantis has “a propensity to devour food during meetings.” And it shared a story from 2019, in which Ron DeSantis, on a flight from Tallahassee to Washington, “enjoyed a chocolate pudding dessert—by eating it with three of his fingers.”
That last story was widely shared on social media, with some speculating that the governor had gotten on the plane without realizing there were no spoons on board. This recalled a famous story from 2019, about how Senator and then-presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar had once eaten a salad with a comb, upon realizing there were no forks on her plane.
“Ron DeSantis Eating Pudding With His Fingers Will End His 2024 Bid,” New York Magazine predicted.
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Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.