Election 2024

Ron DeSantis is polling terribly in the first 3 states hosting GOP primary elections

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo: YouTube screenshot

Three states will hold the first Republican primary elections in early 2024: Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Rabidly anti-LGBTQ+ presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is polling horribly in all three — trailing former President Donald Trump by double-digit margins.

Iowa will hold its caucuses on January 15. A collection of state polls, averaged by RealClearPolitics, show Trump with 48.7% support and DeSantis with just 14.3% — trailing Trump by 34.4%. New Hampshire will also hold its GOP primary in January. There, poll averages show Trump beating DeSantis by 35.2%. Nevada, which will hold its primary and caucus in early February, has Trump beating DeSantis by an average of 24.75%, according to the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight.

A July 2023 poll found that Republican voters in DeSantis’ own state of Florida far prefer Trump to him. State newspapers have called him “no political genius” and a threat to the entire country.

DeSantis’ poor polling numbers come just as his biggest donors are fleeing. Earlier this month, Kenneth Griffin, the biggest donor to DeSantis’s 2021 gubernatorial election campaign, said that he isn’t donating to DeSantis’ 2024 presidential campaign because DeSantis doesn’t seem to have a strategy for winning.

Of the top 50 donors who gave $160,000 or more to DeSantis’ 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign, only eight have donated to his presidential campaign, and only 16 have donated to his super PAC Never Back Down, Politico noted. Five who gave to his super PAC also donated money to his GOP presidential rivals.

Republicans also privately loathe DeSantis. Numerous sources quoted in a September 2022 Vanity Fair article described DeSantis as combative and cold with “a mix of extreme arrogance and painful awkwardness.”

Steve Cortes, a top official for DeSantis’s political action committee (PAC), Never Back Down, said that DeSantis faces an “uphill battle” to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

“Right now, in national polling, we are way behind. I’ll be the first to admit that,” Cortes said. “I believe in being really blunt and really honest. It’s an uphill battle.”

“The former president has debated through two successive presidential cycles, so of course he possesses a lot of experience in that arena,” Cortes added. “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.”

Despite Cortes’s rosy outlook, LGBTQ+ ally Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) also said DeSantis “has made some very large, critical errors” in trying to prove that he’s more of a warrior than Trump when it comes to his fighting against “woke” social issues like LGBTQ+- and racial-inclusion.

“Well, you can’t out-Trump Trump, right? And that’s what he’s really been trying to do. His attacks on teachers, on schools, on LGBT Americans I think go way too far in the State of Florida,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I think that they are a profound political miscalculation and an overcompensation.”

She pointed out DeSantis’s rabidly anti-LGBTQ+ ad, which featured oiled-up bodybuilders while praising DeSantis’s numerous attacks on queer people. In response to the ad, gay Republicans have been abandoning DeSantis in droves, and The New Republic published a piece calling it “the weirdest ad in American political history.”

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