Some Saturday Night Live segments haven’t aged so well, mostly due to cultural insensitivities, but arguably none are worse than a skit that aired on November 2, 1992, for just being so far off the mark. Titled, “Campaign ’92: The Race to Avoid Being the Guy Who Loses to Bush,” it predicted that no one stood a chance of taking on the then-very popular President George H.W. Bush.
What is also notable with more than 30 years of hindsight is that the skit didn’t feature then-Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas — who few considered a viable candidate at the time. In fact, it wasn’t until the New Hampshire primary on February 18, 1992, that Clinton managed a surprising second-place finish.
It earned him the nickname the “Comeback Kid.” Clinton, of course, went on to win the Democratic nomination and defeated Bush in the general election.
Now another southern governor is hoping for such a comeback – namely Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who has just 14 percent of support among GOP voters younger than 45 years of age according to a Fox News poll. Even worse for DeSantis is the fact that he trails former President Donald Trump by nearly 50 points. Trump has the current support of 64 percent of younger Republicans in the same poll.
It is also noteworthy that DeSantis is 44 years old, thus a member of the demographic cohort!
The numbers are a little better for the Florida governor in the 45 to 64 age demographic, where he is only 25 points down from Trump’s 52 percent of support to DeSantis’ 27 percent. The margin is even tighter with those over 65, where the former president has 50 percent support to the governor’s 30 percent.
Do the Early Polls Matter?
It would seem that based on the polls, DeSantis should throw in the towel. However, as noted, just months before the 1992 primary season, Bill Clinton wasn’t even included in the now-infamous SNL skit. It would take until the spring for the show to take notice.
It may thus take voters a while to consider DeSantis – and that’s the strategy his campaign is now betting on.
The DeSantis campaign is also looking to the series of upcoming debates – even as it is unlikely that Trump will participate. Instead, Trump has largely just gone on the attack against DeSantis at nearly every campaign stop. This is a replay of his strategy from the 2016 campaign, taking on his nearest competitors one by one. DeSantis is the biggest threat and thus the clear early target.
The first GOP debate is scheduled for August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will be hosted by Fox News.
Uphill Battle for Ron DeSantis
Even the DeSantis campaign has seen that it is facing an uphill battle.
“Taking on an incumbent or former president in the primary always represents a significant challenge,” DeSantis spokesperson Steve Cortes said during a Twitter Spaces conversation last Sunday, TheHill.com reported.
“But I am convinced that Governor DeSantis will outperform expectations and inform large audiences about his amazing life, political record, and winning agenda for the presidency,” Cortes noted.
It is still a long way to New Hampshire, and it could be argued that Trump needs to remove DeSantis as a threat long before the primaries. The last thing Trump needs is to face a threat throughout the primary season as it could convince voters he is not the guy to beat Joe Biden.
This is where DeSantis could win even if he can’t get the nomination. He can make Trump look like a serial loser – setting up the governor for a comeback in four years.
In other words, even if Ron DeSantis can’t get the nomination next year, it is very likely he’d be the candidate to beat in 2028. Politics is always a marathon, and there is always another election cycle around the corner.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.