Ron DeSantis Beats Donald Trump in Major, Grassroots 2024 Straw Poll

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Former President Donald J. Trump has clearly shifted the Republican Party towards a more populist direction since he first came down that escalator six years ago. But, since January 20 of this year, the big question has been whether or not voters would stick with President Trump, should he run again in 2024.

The GOP Establishment would love nothing more than to go back to the pre-Trump era, but it’s clear the voters want to go even further MAGA, so to speak. And this weekend, conference attendees at the Western Conservative Summit showed for the first time that in 2024, Ron DeSantis may be the Republican base’s choice to continue what President Trump started.

The Daily Wire reports that the Western Conservative Summit found that for those who attended, “The top five candidates, in order of most approval to least, were: Ron DeSantis (74%), Donald Trump (71%), Sen. Ted Cruz (43%), Mike Pompeo (39%) and Sen. Tim Scott (36%),”

Likewise, “Former Vice President Pence came in tenth place.”

Florida-based journalist John Cardillo surmised that DeSantis won because “People want action and DeSantis has proven he’s willing to act.”

“Anecdotally, those I speak to trust DeSantis FAR more on personnel,” Cardillo added.

Indeed, it’s no secret that personnel staffing problems plagued President Trump’s administration from the get-go.

GOP hacks from the Republican National Committee and other D.C. swamp creatures took advantage of the new president’s inexperience dealing with the government, and, rather than appointing those who supported President Trump, folks like Reince Priebus saw it their duty to fill his administration chock full of Paul Ryan, George Bush-type appointees.

At American Compass, Conservative Policy Institute’s Rachel Bovard detailed this beautifully:

Perhaps the most consequential Priebus hire, which would leave an indelible mark on the entire Trump presidency, was the selection of John DeStefano as director of Presidential Personnel. DeStefano was formerly an aide to John Boehner, the Speaker of the House who was ousted in a rebellion led by future White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. He was the President of Data Trust, a downtown Republican consulting outfit with ties to Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell’s American Crossroads. DeStefano had no discernable expertise in personnel matters, and no connection to or understanding of Trump’s focus or the conservative movement itself. Conservatives were vocal in their displeasure.

Yet it was DeStefano who would steer the personnel ship from February 2017 to the end of May 2019, when he departed the White House to advise the vaping company, Juul. His tenure largely served as a pipeline to shuffle establishment Washington into administration jobs for the sake of their resumes, rather than to do the difficult spadework of confronting Washington’s toxic routines, which was what Trump made clear he intended.

The president also yielded tremendous deference in personnel to the Republican apparatus in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told Trump within the first few weeks, “I don’t wanna hear any more of this ‘drain the swamp’ talk,” ended up placing allies and D.C. regulars into key positions in the White House and various agencies. The president also left much of the subcabinet level staffing to the discretion of his cabinet secretaries. As a result, agencies were run by appointees pursuing the policy agendas (and perhaps political ambitions) of their respective secretaries or else functioning more as autonomous Republican political operatives than as shepherds of the president’s policy priorities.

DeSantis, on the other hand, has no problem firing staff he doesn’t see fit for advancing his agenda. In fact, Politico even attempted to sling mud at the Florida governor for this, recently reporting that he relies largely on himself, his wife, and a few trusted advisors to get the job done.

Politico:

— A “support group” of former DeSantis staffers meets regularly to trade war stories about their hardship working for the governor. The turnover in his office and among his campaign advisers is well known among Republicans: In three of his five full years in Congress, he ranked in at least the 70th percentile in terms of highest turnover in a House office, according to data compiled by Legistorm. In the governor’s office, he has only two staffers who started with him when he was a junior member of Congress.

— Within six months of taking office as governor in 2019, DeSantis fired five staffers. One was a 23-year-old scheduler who’d been with him since the beginning of his gubernatorial race. Shortly after she was sent packing, an unnamed member of DeSantis’ administration was quoted in a Florida blog trashing her performance. A month later, his deputy chief of staff left, prompting Florida reporters to press him about the rapid churn in his operation.

[…]

“Throughout my time as Chief of Staff, the Governor empowered me to make sure that everyone who worked for him had the best interests of the state at heart,” Strum wrote. “We didn’t tolerate leakers, and we didn’t tolerate grifters. Fortunately, aside from some individuals we had to part with early in the administration, the Governor has had a strong and loyal team, who he appreciates.”

This was supposed to be a dig at the governor, perhaps evidence of a dysfunctional executive. But, his legislative success in Florida speaks volumes. The governor has enacted numerous populist wins — from banning critical race theory, to protecting girls’ sports, to supporting police, and of course, his stellar success during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Likewise, Cardillo observes, “Trump’s paralysis by analysis and repeated personnel failures led to this. DeSantis handles hostile media better than Trump then puts those words into action. Also, those I speak w/feel DeSantis will have 1000 lawyers on the field a year before Election Day to combat fraud.”

If DeSantis will make it a priority to have lawyers on the ground to prevent fraud, this can only help him with grassroots voters. Election security is the number-two issue that these voters cared about, right behind border security:

“Question two asked attendees to mark any of 25 policy issues as most important to them,” the statement continued. “The top five most important issues were: Immigration/Border Security (82%), Election Integrity (79%), Religious Freedom (75%), Federal Budget/Deficit (74%) and Gun Rights (74%).”

Good ol’ Kurt Schlichter from our sister site Townhall.com also shared similar feelings with Cardillo.

Here’s what Kurt had to say, “I am noticing a lot of conservatives whose view is ‘We love ya Mr. President, but we’re going in a different direction on2024.’ I don’t think President Trump runs again.”

Who knows if Trump will run again. But, if DeSantis does decide to run in 2024, he comes not only with incredible legislative accomplishments and instincts as governor of Florida, but also with an outstanding resume behind him.

He’s an Iraq War veteran, former Congressman, a graduate of Yale undergrad, as well Harvard law school, and was Yale’s varsity baseball captain. He also has a beautiful family. The guy is a born winner.

President Trump was, and is, great. The greatest president of my lifetime. He was exactly what we needed in 2016.

But, in 2024, is it time we move on to DeSantis?