DeSantis Is Between a Rock and a Hard Place as the Most Important Decision of His Political Career Nears

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Ron DeSantis stands alone as the country’s most popular governor; few would — or should — doubt that. But if the governor is to parlay his sky-high approval ratings and political successes into the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, he’s going to have to walk somewhat of a fine line on the way there.


Why? Two words: Donald Trump. Or, better, in four words: Trump supporters (and) Trump detractors.

While DeSantis’ public stances so far have closely aligned with those of Trump — although he’s taken a more skeptical view of COVID vaccinations than Trump — he risks alienating “traditional” Republicans, which remains the largest bloc of the GOP (contrary to the beliefs of “MAGA”), if he remains too close to Trump’s positions.

By the same token, if DeSantis attacks Trump one-tenth as much as Trump continues to attack him, Trump loyalists promptly lose their minds. I know; hypocrisy is unbecoming.

So, what’s DeSantis to do, if he does run — with all signs pointing to “I’m in”?

DeSantis, so far, appears content with siphoning away former Trump supporters by showing that while he’s “just as tough as Trump,” he’s not saddled with the former president’s baggage and constant drama. Is it a winning strategy? It’s too early to tell, although a February Quinnipiac poll found both Trump and DeSantis with 37 percent favorable ratings, but in stark contrast, Trump was minus-22 percent — 57 percent to 35 percent — unfavorable, compared to DeSantis.


Moreover, a February Morning Consult poll found that 50 percent of likely Republican voters want to move on from the 2020 election, with just 37 percent saying they want to continue to focus (dwell) on it. In addition, a separate February Quinnipiac poll found 52 percent of Republicans agree with former Vice President Mike Pence vs. Trump on the former being constitutionally unable to overturn the 2020 election, compared to just 36 percent who agreed with Trump’s “send it back to the states” argument — for which no mechanism exists.

Now, as I’ve said in the past, ad nauseam: Polls and surveys are simply snapshots in time, which is part of why I’m amused by the obsession of some with virtually every 2024 presidential preference poll that comes down the pike — given there’s a whole lot of water yet to flow under the political bridge between now and November 5, 2024. That said, the results found by the polls I referenced remain consistent: A growing percentage of likely Republican voters want to focus on the future, not the past.

Still, the 2020 election business presents a bit of a sticky wicket to DeSantis.


If DeSantis focuses on Biden and the future only and refuses to join Trump’s tit-for-tat game and avoid talking about 2020, he likely plays to more potential voters than not. On the other hand, he then risks alienating the living hell out of the Trump faithful — “MAGA Republicans,” as it were — which remains as fervent a lot as ever.

Either way, if Ron DeSantis is to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, he’ll perhaps need an assist or two from Donald Trump, whose history of unforced errors and self-inflicted messes is legendary.

The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos