Like everyone else, I listened to DeSantis’s botched Twitter Spaces launch, but then reached some conclusions about the trajectory of his campaign at New York:
Before long, the laughter over the technical glitches that marred Ron DeSantis’s official presidential campaign launch with Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces will fade. We’ll all probably look back and place this moment in better perspective. Political-media folk (not to mention DeSantis’s Republican rivals and Democratic enemies) tend to overreact to “game changing” moments in campaigns when fundamentals and long-term trends matter infinitely more. Relatively few actual voters were tuned in to Twitter to watch the botched launch, and even fewer will think less of DeSantis as a potential president because of this incident.
It mattered in one respect, however: The screwed-up launch stepped all over a DeSantis campaign reset designed to depict the Florida governor as a political Death Star with unlimited funds and an unbeatable strategy for winning the GOP nomination. The reset was important to rebut the prevailing story line that DeSantis had lost an extraordinary amount of ground since the salad days following his landslide reelection last year, when he briefly looked to be consolidating partywide support as a more electable and less erratic replacement for Donald Trump. For reasons both within and beyond his control, he missed two critical strategic objectives going into the 2024 race: keeping the presidential field small enough to give him a one-on-one shot at Trump and keeping Trump from reestablishing himself as the front-runner with an air of inevitability about a third straight nomination.
To dissipate growing concerns about the DeSantis candidacy, the top chieftains of his Never Back Down super-PAC let it be known earlier this week that they had a plan that would shock and awe the political world, based on their extraordinary financial resources (fed by an $80 million surplus DeSantis transferred from his Florida reelection campaign account). The New York Times wrote up the scheme without questioning its connection to reality:
“A key political group supporting Ron DeSantis’s presidential run is preparing a $100 million voter-outreach push so big it plans to knock on the door of every possible DeSantis voter at least four times in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — and five times in the kickoff Iowa caucuses.
“The effort is part of an on-the-ground organizing operation that intends to hire more than 2,600 field organizers by Labor Day, an extraordinary number of people for even the best-funded campaigns….
“The group said it expected to have an overall budget of at least $200 million.”
In case the numbers didn’t properly document the audacity of this plan, Team DeSantis made it explicit. The Times report continues:
“‘No one has ever contemplated the scale of this organization or operation, let alone done it,’ said Chris Jankowski, the group’s chief executive. ‘This has just never even been dreamed up.’” …
At the helm of the DeSantis super PAC is Jeff Roe, a veteran Republican strategist who was Mr. [Ted] Cruz’s campaign manager in 2016. In an interview, Mr. Roe described an ambitious political apparatus whose 2,600 field organizers by the fall would be roughly double the peak of Senator Bernie Sanders’s entire 2020 primary campaign staff.
Clearly opening up the thesaurus to find metaphors for the extraordinary power and glory of their plans, one DeSantis operative told the Dispatch they were “light speed and light years ahead of any campaign out there, including Trump’s.”
Now more than ever, DeSantis’s campaign will have to prove its grand plans aren’t just fantasies. Those doors in Iowa really will have to be knocked. Thanks to Trump’s current lead, DeSantis will absolutely have to beat expectations there and do just as well in New Hampshire and South Carolina before facing an existential challenge in his and Trump’s home state of Florida. And while DeSantis had a good weekend in Iowa recently, picking up a lot of state legislative endorsements even as Trump canceled a rally due to bad weather that never arrived, he’s got a ways to go. A new Emerson poll of the first-in-the-nation-caucuses state shows Trump leading by an astonishing margin of 62 percent to 20 percent. And obviously enough, Iowa is where DeSantis will likely face the largest number of rivals aside from Trump; he’s a sudden surge from Tim Scott or Mike Pence or Nikki Haley or even Vivek Ramaswamy away from a real Iowa crisis.
Door knocking aside, a focus on Iowa, with its base-dominated caucus system and its large and powerful conservative Evangelical population, will likely force DeSantis to run to Trump’s right even more than he already has. The newly official candidate did not mention abortion policy during his launch event on Twitter; that will have to change, since he has a crucial opportunity to tell Iowa Evangelicals about the six-week ban he recently signed (similar, in fact, to the law Iowa governor Kim Reynolds enacted), in contrast to Trump’s scolding of the anti-abortion movement for extremism. DeSantis also failed once again to talk about his own religious faith, whatever it is; that will probably have to change in Iowa too. He did, however, talk a lot during the launch about his battle against the COVID-19 restrictions the federal government sought to impose on Florida even during the Trump administration. That will very likely continue.
The glitchy launch basically cost DeSantis whatever room for maneuvering he might have enjoyed as the 2024 competition begins to get very real — less than eight months before Iowa Republicans caucus (the exact date remains TBD). He’d better get used to spending a lot of time in Iowa’s churches and Pizza Ranches, and he also needs to begin winning more of the exchanges of potshots with Trump, which will only accelerate from here on out. All the money he has and all the hype and spin his campaign puts out won’t win the nomination now that Trump is fully engaged, and it sure doesn’t look like the 45th president’s legal problems will represent anything other than rocket fuel for his jaunt through the primaries. So for DeSantis, it’s time to put up or shut up.
I AM REASSURRED THAT THE ZI POL REFLECTS WHAT I SEE IS THE CLEAREST PICTURE ON THE ELECTION. WITH SOME POLLS GIVING KERRY CALIF WITH ONLY A 50-42% ADVANTAGE I SIMPLY DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. WHAT I DO SEE HAPPENING IS THE PUBLIC RESPONDING TO EITHER KERRY AND HIS PERHAPS DULL , BUT FORTHWITH SPEECHS THAT DEAL WITH THE ECONOMY AND IRAQ WHICH ARE INTERTWINED, OR THE WAY BUSH HAS DEALT WITH THE ADVERSITY IN IRAQ AND HIS RELUCTANCE TO ADMIT SOME A MOUNT OF FAILURE IN PROCESS. IN MY VIEW THIS IS BRINGING KERRY AND BUSH CLOSER TOGETHER CLOSER TO ELECTION DAY AND THE DEBATES WIL GO A LONG WAY IN DETERMINING THE WINNER.
I never believed bush had that 11 point bounce. They lied about WMD, social security, medicare, taxes, the economy, iraq, and everything else. Why should we believe rethug polls like gallup? “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”
This may be off topic, but Survey USA strikes (out) again. Speaking as a resident of Maryland, I can say with some conviction that there is no way Bush is even with Kerry here. Other surveys taken just recently (during some of Kerry’s worst campaign coverage) showed Kerry up by 9-10 points. The GOP governor of MD said that Bush would be wasting his time and money campaigning here.
Of course, it’s always possible that SUSA is right and everyone else (myself included) wrong. But this is the same survey that showed Kerry up by only 4 points in Illinois last week and was promptly contradicted by other surveys that showed Kerry with a double digit lead. And that produced a California poll with more Republicans than Democrats that was not shared by other surveys.
Looking at SUSA closely, I find that they have a Democratic edge of only 44-35 among Maryland likely voters (about the same among RV’s) when party registration here is more like 57-30 Democratic (approximately). And Bush is said to be (barely) ahead among suburban voters–apparently they forgot to poll Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. And they have twice as many conservatives as liberals–accurate in many states, but not here.
SUSA is starting to resemble Gallup in its sampling. And I’m not sure about Zogby, either.
I remain highly skeptical of ZI polls, but maybe more wired states may provide more accurate interactive polls. States like WV however, which are less wired, may not work out as well. I mean c’mon, Bush with a double digit lead in WV? When they are handing out ice cream and Bibles in hell, maybe.
What has Zogby’s track record been in terms of accuracy in presidential polling? This latest batch of state news looks like great news for us…but it’s also a little out of line with some other polling data.