The DeSantis Campaign Is Faltering: Can He Reverse Its Downward Spiral?

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Some folks are not going to want to hear this. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign is in trouble. Several recent stories suggest that even members of the donor class who are not fond of former President Donald Trump are souring on the governor.


While DeSantis has raised a considerable amount of money for his campaign, these developments are not portending well for his chances of securing the GOP nomination. However, this does not mean there isn’t enough time for him to turn things around.

Rupert Murdoch, media tycoon and owner of Fox News, is reportedly losing confidence in DeSantis’ ability to defeat Trump in the 2024 Republican primary, according to Rolling Stone. Murdoch and his son are described as “transactional” in their dealings with politicians and able to recognize a losing candidate.

Fox News coverage and editorial board articles from the New York Post, also owned by the Murdoch family, have been increasingly critical of DeSantis. The governor’s underwhelming campaign performance, low poll numbers compared to Trump, and his culture warrior campaign strategy have raised concerns among the Murdochs. While they are not ready to give up on DeSantis entirely, they may have no other choice but to return to supporting Trump or going a different route if they believe the governor is not a viable candidate.

In addition to the Murdochs, wealthy donors who had previously supported DeSantis are now considering alternative candidates, such as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Donors have expressed concerns about DeSantis’s campaign missteps, hardline positions on social issues, and his comments on Ukraine. Some donors, including billionaire Ronald Lauder, have met with Scott to discuss his campaign and are exploring the possibility of supporting him.


The candidate also faced criticism after he turned down an offer to speak at an upcoming Turning Point Action event in Florida. Conservative commentator Jack Posobiec, during an interview on Human Events, said:

“If you can’t stand up at a Turning Point event in your OWN state, then I don’t know how you’re going to handle the pressures of a presidency.”

The shift in donor support poses a threat to DeSantis’s fundraising efforts and indicates that he has not met the expectations of the establishment. Despite his ability to raise funds and his assertion that he is running to win in the long haul, his stagnant poll numbers and concerns from donors highlight the challenges he faces in the primary race.

DeSantis’s campaign stumbled out of the gate when he announced his presidential aspirations through a Twitter Spaces session plagued by technical difficulties. Detractors seized upon this incident as evidence of a campaign unprepared for the national stage. Furthermore, others have pointed out his perceived lack of charisma and awkwardness during public appearances, which have not resonated with voters seeking a compelling leader. These early missteps and concerns over DeSantis’s personal appeal have hindered his ability to gain enough traction and momentum to close the polling gaps between himself and Trump.


Another challenge for DeSantis has been his laserlike focus on cultural grievances and “woke” issues, which has attracted both support and criticism. While his stance on these issues may resonate with a certain segment of the Republican base, some observers argue that it risks alienating voters who prioritize solutions for the economy, healthcare, and other pressing national concerns.

The problem isn’t that folks on the right don’t agree with him on the woke issues; the problem is that they also have concerns outside of that. Yet, DeSantis continues to focus more on “woke” than on people’s pocketbooks. To broaden his appeal and make significant headway in the primary race, DeSantis needs to articulate a clear vision for America that encompasses a wide range of policy areas beyond cultural battles.

Despite the setbacks and criticism, it is still far too early to count the governor out. He has built an impressive war chest, amassing significant funds that can fuel a robust and competitive campaign. With effective messaging, a refined campaign strategy, and a focus on substantive policy proposals, DeSantis has the opportunity to reinvigorate his campaign and close the polling gap with Trump.

The road ahead won’t be easy for Team DeSantis as they face considerable challenges in the race for the nomination. With his substantial campaign funds and ample time remaining in the primary race, DeSantis has the potential to turn his struggling campaign around and emerge as a formidable contender against Donald Trump. The coming months will reveal whether he can rise to the occasion and seize this opportunity.



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