Let’s get into some solid red-meat political analysis. With the 2022 midterm elections firmly in the rearview mirror, political pundits are starting to look ahead to the 2024 presidential election. This summer, the GOP race will begin to take shape. This fall, primary debates will ensue ahead of Republican voters having their say about who the presidential nominee will be starting in early February 2024. Although former President Donald Trump is the only declared candidate at this point, a developing civil war within the Republican Party could have a ripple effect heading into the November 2024 general election.
In late October, Trump began taking shots at DeSantis as he ran toward the finish line to serve another four-year term as Florida’s governor. Many expect DeSantis to announce whether or not he’ll seek the nomination sometime in the spring or summer. Still, all the signs indicate the popular conservative governor intends to mount a run against Trump. He’s not al. Up to five others could also seek the Republican nomination as well.
DeSantis has built a lot of momentum over the last several years, especially among conservatives and independents in Florida. He defeated Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor and Democratic congressman, by nearly 20 points. That’s a landslide in modern politics. DeSantis’ popularity is an apparent concern to Trump. He has taken several shots at the Florida politician over the last several months.
The question is, will it endear Trump to voters or turn them off?
Ronald Reagan once said the 11th Commandment was that fellow Republicans should not speak ill of any other Republican. We know Trump doesn’t subscribe to that philosophy. Some say that Trump won’t allow DeSantis to contest him without a significant fight and say nothing less than a civil war is brewing in the Republican Party.
So, is DeSantis a threat to Trump in a primary?
Over the last several months, the governor has been a danger to a Trump nomination in a potential head-to-head matchup. When other candidates such as former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, or former Vice President Mike Pence are added to the mix, it becomes a tossup.
A December 13 USA Today poll found that two-thirds of GOP and GOP-leaning voters want DeSantis to enter the race (56% to 33%). By 2-1, they also said they liked Trump’s policies but wanted someone else to carry them on.
On December 14, a Wall Street Journal poll showed DeSantis held an early lead among Republican voters. It said the governor would defeat Trump 52% to 38% among likely GOP primary voters. Additionally, 86% viewed DeSantis favorably compared to 74% for Trump, and 10% said they didn’t know enough about the Florida governor to offer an opinion.
According to the RealClearPolitics of average polls on Wednesday, January 18, Trump led DeSantis when other candidates were included in the polling. The spread ran from +23 to +5 for Trump. Still, the averages show both men defeating Biden anywhere from +2 to +6. Two polls show Biden defeating Trump anywhere from +2 to +4.
On Monday, January 16, Trump told The Water Cooler host David Brody that he heard DeSantis might run against him. He said, “So we’ll handle that the way I handle things.” For those who’ve followed Trump over the years, you know he’s not pulling any punches.
So, how might Trump handle DeSantis?
For one, there’s the tried and true method of labeling and branding him. In 2016, Trump defeated 17 Republican candidates using a myriad of terms. Remember some of these:
- Low energy Jeb (Bush)
- Lyin’ Ted (Cruz)
- Little Marco (Rubio)
- Crooked Hillary (Clinton)
- Crazy Bernie (Sanders)
Ahead of the November midterm elections, Trump already jabbed DeSantis as Ron “DeSanctimonious.” So, there is likely to be more forthcoming.
In addition, the former president is likely to undermine DeSantis by taking credit for him and suggesting DeSantis should be loyal and grateful. Trump has already said that he created the governor and was the reason he won the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election. He’s also likely to remind voters that DeSantis has claimed the MAGA credentials from atop his shoulders.
It’s debatable if these tactics will work. It risks turning off enough voters who could swing their votes to DeSantis in protest.
Yet, that’s not to say Trump will lose in a primary battle. In fact, if Trump presents himself as he did in his November announcing a third run for the White House, he could be almost impossible to defeat among GOP primary voters. In that speech, the 2024 presidential contender stuck to the issues and contrasted his policy results with Joe Biden’s. For the first time in a while, he sounded more like a statesman looking forward instead of a politician with a grievance looking back. The question is, will Trump do that the rest of the way?
There is only one guarantee in this pivotal GOP primary — it is going to be contentious. No one is going to walk out of it unscathed. Violating Reagan’s 11th Amendment could have severe consequences from the top of the ballot all the way down to the bottom. Still, if one candidate can rise to the top, inspire America, and stay above the fray, Biden and congressional Democrats can face defeat in 2024. If not, despite Biden’s record low approval ratings, he could retain the White House for four more years.
That’s a lot of big “ifs.”
As the campaigns begin to heat up through the spring and summer, I’ll have more insights into the developments and will offer what I hope will be the best conservative insights and analysis for followers of The Conservative Era to consider.
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