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RZR Report: DeSantis Campaign in Free Fall?

RZR Report: DeSantis Campaign in Free Fall?

By RZR News Team
Aug 10, 2023

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Analysis

August 9, 2023 polling reveals that Governor Ron DeSantis (FL) stands in second place at 15.9% of Republican votes, while Donald Trump leads with 53.9% popularity. At this moment, DeSantis and Trump are the only two seemingly viable GOP candidates; however, this statement is arguable as some may not view DeSantis as competition to Trump. Evaluating the current stability and identifying the strengths and challenges of DeSantis’s campaign provides crucial insights on predicting whether his campaign is headed toward the beginning of the end.

According to polls, DeSantis’s popularity has been declining since March 30, 2023. There are notable DeSantis actions in the month of March that may have led to these falling numbers. House Bill 1 was signed into action; this bill uses taxpayer dollars to fund primarily low- and middle-income students to attend private schools. This bill received strong backlash from the Florida Education Association. Furthermore, “Pudding-Gate” was publicized in March leading to unfavorable, public discussions regarding his table manners and social skills. But surprisingly enough, Ron DeSantis officially announced his presidential candidacy on May 23, 2023 and since then, there has been a decrease in his popularity within Florida and nationally.

Since DeSantis’s numbers have been falling in the polls since his announcement, has his campaign truly been the most effective it could be? There have been multiple staff resets, questionable campaigning and possible fundraising issues. There have been three major staff resets; in early-mid July, Dave Abrams and Tucker Obenshain, the communications advisor and media director and the lead of external affairs respectively, chose to leave their positions and aid the campaign from and third-party, political organization. Next, there was a big staff layoff; about 10% of his campaign staff were laid off due to speculated shortcomings of campaign revenue. These staff members were involved with event planning and are predicted to continue aiding the campaign from an outside event-planning group. Finally, on August 8, 2023, DeSantis switched high-level roles within his campaign; his former campaign manager, Gennerra Peck, will now become the lead strategist, while James Uthmeier will replace Peck as the campaign manager.

Some of the questionable campaigning strategies include the use of artificial intelligence in promotional ads, a social media staffer retweeting a symbol commonly identified with the Nazi regime and a door-to-door knocker for the campaign making obscene comments after allegedly using marijuana. While there are other questionable campaign methods that have ensued from DeSantis’s campaign, some of these flukes are subject to personal opinions (such as the use of AI).

Experts have suggested that DeSantis needs to hire outside of his circle for a more effective campaign – individuals who have previous success histories in presidential campaigning. Experts have also identified DeSantis’s points of differentiation from Trump; Florida’s overall success, especially economically and his opposition of COVID-19 recommendations from the CDC, Trump and Fauci. From an outside perspective, it should be rather easy for Trump’s campaign to identify weaknesses and failures within DeSantis’s strengths since DeSantis is not utilizing these differentiations of success from Trump.

Furthermore, DeSantis needs to be careful about continuously attacking Trump in his campaign, as this will develop a divide in voters; other candidates are not continuously bashing Trump as they may hope to work within his campaign should he be elected. Furthermore, it will create an incentive for Trump to attack DeSantis – something that should be avoided since he is already trailing in the polls.

Overall, DeSantis has a fighting chance with his campaign, especially since it is quite early in the campaign season. What do you think about DeSantis’s campaign?

– SG

Learn more about the conservative viewpoint

Ron DeSantis’s Campaign has been disheveled since the beginning. Not only is Ron DeSantis running against the former president, Donald Trump, who has been in the news for his issues regarding the upcoming New York and Georgia Supreme Court cases, but DeSantis has also passed and enacted some questionable campaigns in Florida that have led to widespread controversy around the United States.

The DeSantis administration expanded the controversial law that critics call “Don’t Say Gay” to cover all grades, banning schools and children in them from referencing themselves as the sex they were biologically bone with. Additionally, he enacted two new death penalty laws in Florida. He ended the need for a unanimous jury requirement in death penalty sentencing, allowing capital punishment with a jury recommendation of at least 8-4 in favor of execution. 

DeSantis is quoted as saying he was able to accomplish all this even though “Florida used to be a swing state.”

 However, though he may be able to please Florida, the rest of the United States does not seem convinced. His poll numbers are dropping rapidly and DeSantis is trying everything to save it. According to an NBC News article, he had a public meeting inviting New Hampshire voters to share a beer with him in Concord for only $1. After an hour into the event, only 30 people had shown up.

 Even worse it appears that his party is questioning his ability to run. According to one of the most recent polls, Trump had 52.5% of the Republican vote and Ron DeSantis had 18.5% with Mike Pence, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott still in the running, but farther back. 

 It is speculated that these candidates are still in the running because they expect DeSantis to stumble and fall. If these other Republican candidates were to drop out it would give DeSantis a significantly greater chance at obtaining the Republican Nomination and rising his poll numbers.

So, the question is why such little faith in Ron DeSantis? He has significantly a better track record legally than Trump who is currently being indicted for charges on sexual assault and recently lost a suit on defamation. Still, Trump is the leading candidate with over half of the Republican party support.

There are a few theories on why DeSantis is falling behind. One theory suggests that Trump has more money than Ron DeSantis to fund campaigns. In a sense this is true. Trump is much wealthier, but Ron DeSantis still has plenty of funding on his end to drive a successful campaign. The lack of money is mostly likely not the reason why DeSantis’s campaign is flailing. 

The second and more probable theory is that DeSantis is extremely outspoken and his opinions and policies on anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-DEI and so forth do not sit well with the moderate voter. According to Tim Miller, writer-at-large for The Bulwark, this speculation might not explain the drop in the polls, as the moderate voters would most likely also look for candidates outside of Donald Trump.

If DeSantis truly wants to fully declare his running for the presidency, he needs to bring back the same spark that led him to prevail in the Florida midterm. Otherwise, if his campaign continues how it is now, it looks like he will be back to being only a governor in no time.

– Caitlin Everhart

Learn more about the independent viewpoint

Prior to 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis was by all accounts viewed as the clear frontrunner destined to sweep the GOP primaries. But fast forward to today and DeSantis’s campaign is in a tailspin. Former President Trump’s lead over DeSantis continues to grow and the Florida governor’s senior staff are making dire predictions about the future of his campaign. One main problem is that Trump and DeSantis are fighting an uneven battle. While DeSantis is hesitant to attack Trump directly, Trump has no problem slinging mud at the Florida governor, hammering DeSantis for his lack of charisma and indirectly calling him a pedophile.

But Trump isn’t the only problem. Governor DeSantis has made numerous mistakes, starting with his disastrous Twitter campaign launch. Since his campaign launch, DeSantis has had to juggle numerous logistical problems and has repeatedly embarrassed himself on the campaign trail and now due to his lack of momentum, many GOP elites have started to turn on the governor. DeSantis’ weak campaign has even caused a shift in strategy from the Democrats, with the Biden campaign now saying they would prefer to run against DeSantis over Trump.

A useful point of comparison for DeSantis would be Senator Elizabeth Warren’s failed 2020 primary run. Just like Warren, Governor DeSantis entered the race as a strong candidate but failed to expand his voter base beyond his most devoted supporters, as evidenced by the lack of small donors contributing to his campaign. Simply put, the more people learn about DeSantis, the less they like him. DeSantis has tried to blame the media for his bad publicity, but the truth is he has no one to blame but himself.

Since becoming Governor, DeSantis has made attacking the “woke” the basis of his entire career-even on the campaign trail he literally cannot stop talking about wokeness. But polling shows that while being anti-woke appeals to the GOP base most Americans view the word positively. DeSantis’s ongoing feud with Disney is similarly unpopular; a majority of Americans view DeSantis’s attacks on the company as an attack on free speech and half of all Republicans disagree with DeSantis’s signature efforts to control education by banning “critical race theory” and other books that discuss racism.

DeSantis’s biggest problem isn’t Trump or Biden: it is that his own extremist beliefs are alienating voters. The Republican Party as a whole has a growing problem with driving away moderate voters but Governor DeSantis is easily the worst offender in this regard. DeSantis’s strategy for the primaries has been to outflank Trump from the right, an impossible task that will only hurt him in a general election. DeSantis’s quest to out-Trump Trump has also led him to embrace anti-vaxxer conspiracies as well, a position that will only endear him to far-right voters that were planning to vote for him already. If DeSantis wants to beat Trump in the primaries, he needs to gather as many anti-Trump voters as possible but this is impossible, as his campaign lacks the mass appeal to do so.

– Matthew Kimball

Learn more about the liberal viewpoint

Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis is rebooting his campaign, even though he has not spent that much time in the race. His campaign is now working with reduced staff, reduced funding and reduced audience numbers. 

Why is someone who for months was poised to be a fierce rival to Trump struggling so mightily with his campaign? One would think that his popularity in Florida would translate on the national stage, but it has not done so. Part of the problem is the possible lack of charisma. Voters are not attracted to facts and figures, they are attracted to rousing speeches and tales of the glory that is to come if they vote for the candidate soaking up the limelight. These speeches are also more successful if they focus on national issues instead of state ones. Iowans do not live in Florida. New Hampshire residents do not either. While they might be attracted by DeSantis’s gubernatorial record, they want to know how he will address the problems they are facing, which might be far different than whatever Florida is facing. 

He is certainly not doing himself any favors by approving a new school curriculum that teaches that there were benefits to slavery enjoyed by the slaves themselves. Nobody with a modicum of decency would vote for a candidate who wants schools to teach such hogwash.

Perhaps his biggest problem is his anti-woke crusade. While voters in Florida are on his side regarding his conflict with Disney, voters in other states prioritize the economy. They are less interested in the culture war and more interested in high-paying jobs, putting food on the table and the cost of living. DeSantis is not going very far if he cannot speak to these issues. Being obsessively anti-woke will not bring primary victories or earn delegates, especially when that brand of anti-woke including barring teachers from telling students their peers might have two mothers or two fathers or boycotting a beer company because it worked with a transgender person, only to subsequently hurt state employees’ pensions since Florida invested in that company. 

Trump has a commanding lead over DeSantis and the other GOP contenders, but it is early. They all have time to catch up. Maybe DeSantis’s new plan to hold more intimate conversations will work in New Hampshire, but he will need to polish his oration skills if he wants to overtake Trump and win the nomination. He will also need to better assess which issues resonate with voters in different states and lay off the anti-woke obsession. 

– Pietro S. Geraci

Learn more about the libertarian viewpoint