Reviews | Conventional wisdom about Ron DeSantis is wrong

There’s no doubt that DeSantis has had a tough few months, especially in national polls, but the idea that he’s an incompetent crackpot with no possible national future is an example of the conventional wisdom that spins out of control and distorts reality.

DeSantis is the same guy he was in January, maybe overrated then, and definitely underrated now.

It’s worth remembering that the worst thing that’s happened to DeSantis in the last few months is that former President Donald Trump has been indicted, which the Governor presumably – like every other Republican in the country hoping Trump doesn’t won’t get the nomination – feared as likely to dramatically boost the former president’s political fortunes. Indeed, it was an inflection point in the beginning. Thereafter, Trump began to consistently top 50 in many national surveys.

This is Alvin Bragg’s work, not the Governor’s. The indictment didn’t make DeSantis a worse politician, but, because the media is often inspired by polls, it created the predicate for overwhelmingly negative coverage.

There have been many doubts about when to launch his campaign. It’s true that Trump stole a march on DeSantis when the Florida governor was the presidential candidates’ Schrödinger cat. But announcing his re-election immediately afterward would also have had drawbacks. What would it have been like if the newly re-elected governor hadn’t even paused to see through the spring legislative session before decamping to Iowa and New Hampshire?

And then there is the issue of preparation. A real presidential campaign is a colossal undertaking. We’ll have to see how well-prepared Team DeSantis is as his campaign officially kicks off. It is unlikely, however, that they would have been ready – certainly not as ready – in, say, February. If he made any avoidable mistakes after a quick announcement, some of the same people saying he botched it while waiting would say he botched it while rushing.

Meanwhile, the Florida governor’s general election prospects, one of his main calling cards, have reportedly been marred by his signing of a six-week abortion ban. The legislation provides exceptions for victims of rape, incest and human trafficking, as well as for the life and health of the mother. It also provides funds to support pregnant women and young mothers. Would a federal version of this measure go far beyond what is politically defensible at present? Yes. But DeSantis hasn’t said he’s going, and none of the people saying how terrible it is for DeSantis stop to think that maybe President Joe Biden’s support for federal legislation to almost eliminate any restrictions on abortion in the states could be its own political problem.

The Governor’s supposed lack of relatability also became a major focus. It is true that he is not a natural content-hander. But his every interaction with people is now scrutinized, zapruder-like, for signs of overwhelming clumsiness. In a clip circulating on Twitter, he rubs his mouth and nose and immediately after slaps someone on the back. You wouldn’t at a dinner party, but the standards of behavior aren’t the same on the campaign trail as in, say, Michael. We’ve gone from the criticism that he doesn’t slap to he slaps the wrong way.

Another clip of him happily greeting customers at a New Hampshire restaurant is meant to be proof he’ll never make it because after asking for the name of a restaurant, he simply says “Ok!” He is now expected to not just say “hello,” but engage in soulful conversation and witty repartee in crowded places.

While DeSantis has fallen sharply in national polls and had some real embarrassment in recent months — a botched Ukrainian statement, the dragging Disney fight — the overwhelming negativity towards him in the press says more about the media than it does. him. Its herd mentality means that once a narrative has taken hold, everyone tends to double down and feed on it more. So we get the consensus that DeSantis is very bad at doing the thing – running for president – ​​that he hasn’t officially done yet.

Its strengths are minimized, while they are not completely ignored.

His truly accomplished tenure in Florida is ignored, both under Trump’s “80 degrees and sunny” argument – that Florida would succeed no matter what – and because his long streak of legislative victories has become hazy and boring.

It’s as if DeSantis was Chauncey Gardener and just happened to happen by chance to win a contested primary and fiercely contested general election in 2018, to become a popular governor, to manage Covid in an independent-minded way which, as far as Republicans are concerned, was completely vindicated, forging a landslide re-election victory, generating massive national buzz, successfully winning over an impressive array of GOP donors, and passing a historic series of conservative laws.

Happens to random assholes all the time, doesn’t it?

When it comes to the 2024 race, DeSantis is polling better in the early states than he is nationally. If he can pull off a victory in Iowa, which will be one of his main campaign goals, his chances of defeating Trump obviously increase dramatically.

There has been attention on a few donors expressing doubts about DeSantis and disappointment with his abortion ban, but he still has broad and seemingly deep support among the party’s big donors.

He’s earned major endorsements over the past two weeks, including a jaw-dropping 37 state lawmakers in Iowa. They probably wouldn’t give personal support to someone who they believe has already been all but knocked out of the competition. The endorsements also show that DeSantis is willing to put in the time and effort to win people over to his side and that he’s learning. It was a fiasco when he neglected relations with members of the Florida congressional delegation and Trump intervened and won many endorsements.

Maybe he’ll never get as competitive with Trump as he did a few months ago, or maybe the race is moving in a completely unexpected direction.

It’s axiomatic among seasoned baseball fans that if your team falls behind early on an opponent who is off to a flying start, there’s nothing to worry about. Either the opponent continues to play at a blistering pace, in which case there is no stopping them no matter what, or the opponent calms down and comes down to earth.

In the same way, if Trump is to stay at 50%, and if a majority of Republicans are attached to him either because of his personality or because they back down in the face of attacks on him from the other side, no matter what DeSantis says or does – the Trump Train will pull out of the station once again, to destinations unknown.

It’s entirely possible. But it won’t be because DeSantis was a fool on a fool’s run.


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