With former President Donald Trump surging in GOP primary polls after his indictment, people are wondering whether the other top Republican contender, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, should wait until 2028 to run for president.
The thinking makes sense. Trump has dominated the GOP since 2016. He has won two consecutive GOP presidential nominations, and despite having lost the 2020 presidential election, he seems poised to win a third nomination.
DeSantis, meanwhile, who has not announced his candidacy yet but is expected to shortly, has become the de facto challenger to Trump’s stranglehold on the GOP. Cut from similar cloth as Trump, DeSantis has won conservatives over with his mixture of policies and political stunts. Some months ago, polls for a moment showed DeSantis pulling significantly ahead of Trump for the GOP nomination. But Trump has surpassed DeSantis in recent weeks, leaving many to wonder whether DeSantis is wasting his popularity on a head-to-head contest with Trump.
Pursuing and winning the presidency is a game of swirling, hectic, and changing variables. The outcome often defies what is foreseen. Pundits and politicians try to map out the outcomes and game the system – but their efforts are often just a massive cluster. Heavy favorites lose. Longshots win. Minor incidents have major implications.
The point is you might not want to overthink things. DeSantis is uniquely popular right now, so, he should probably run for president right now. 2028 is a whole new ballgame. Who knows what the political landscape is going to look like. By 2028, DeSantis’s stock may have fallen for any number of reasons, and someone else may have become weirdly popular.
Right now, DeSantis knows he is a serious contender. Trump is DeSantis’s primary hurdle – a significant one – but DeSantis would be wasting a rare moment if he hesitated.
Can Ron DeSantis Beat Trump?
Ron DeSantis doesn’t want to lose in a GOP primary. It would be bad for his stock and image. But losing in a presidential primary is entirely survivable. Hillary Clinton lost in 2008 and went on to become her party’s pick in 2016. Joe Biden lost primaries in 1988 and 2008 before earning the nomination in 2020. Losing a primary is not the end of the world.
Still, Ron DeSantis won’t enter the race if he doesn’t feel he can defeat Trump. So, can DeSantis beat Trump? It’s possible. The race is very much in flux right now as Trump faces legal issues. The race could well be tumultuous. DeSantis is well positioned to swoop in should Trump fall for some reason.
But Trump, as he tends to do, appears to be benefiting from chaos. Whereas being indicted would derail most candidate’s prospects, Alvin Bragg’s indictment of Trump has Trump on the upswing. It’s understandable when you consider that Trump has spent several years painting himself as the victim of some government-wide witch-hunt. The indictment feeds into that narrative, serving as validation for the tale Trump has been spinning.
DeSantis might be able to win the nomination, he might not. But the only way to find out is to run.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.