The right-leaning Real Clear Politics national polling average still has Meatball Ron DeSantis at #2, although with collapsing support. Trump may still use him as a punching bag from time to time but he no longer sees him as any kind of threat. The latest:
And in Iowa, where DeSantis seems to think he can turn the tide, he’s at 14.8%. In New Hampshire, his polling average is a puny 9.7%, tied with Haley and behind Trump (43.7%) and Christie (10.0%). Ramaswamy is breathing down his neck (9.3%). And he’s in third place in South Carolina. Over the weekend, CNN reported that second place— for whatever that’s worth— is now an open slot and “a free-for-all. Since the 2024 presidential race began, the second-place spot in GOP primary polling has been a coveted one. The conventional wisdom was that for candidates not named Trump, one of their earliest objectives would be to become the consensus alternative to the former president. Before and in the early days of DeSantis’ campaign, it seemed like he would be that candidate. The Florida governor enjoyed a robust campaign war chest and early polling showed him trailing only Trump, albeit by a wide margin. But more recently, DeSantis’s star has begun to fade.”
He was unimpressive at the first debate, the more voters saw of him, the less they liked him and many of his big campaign contributors started abandoning him. The death rate started the way it always does in these campaigns: firing staffers and cutting back budgets. Haley is overtaking him in some polls and far more of a threat to him than he is to Trump. He’s only been endorsed by 6 Members of Congress Bob Good (R-VA), Chip Roy (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rick McCormick (R-GA) and his former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, the only member of the Florida delegation, a terrible embarrassment.
This coming Wednesday could be a make it or break moment for DeSantis. Unless he’s outstanding in the Trump-free second debate, he’s pretty much washed up, especially if Nikki Haley or Vivek Ramaswamy outshines him again.
On Friday, Gary Finest and Kimberley Leonard reported that ”DeSantis is losing his clout in Florida. College boards, stacked with DeSantis appointees, are rejecting job candidates with ties to the governor. The chair of the Republican Party of Florida urged executive committee members to attend all GOP candidate events — giving cover to party faithful who want to attend a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Trump.” Florida Republicans expect him to drop out.
Interviews with nearly two dozen lobbyists, political consultants and lawmakers revealed that DeSantis’ struggles as a presidential candidate have already eroded his influence in Florida. There is a widespread expectation that his candidacy will end in failure. His standing at home may depend on how long he slogs forward in the presidential campaign— and how he will manage his exit from the race if he eventually drops out.
Now, it may be just a matter of time before Florida Republicans, once unflinchingly loyal, seek distance from DeSantis and his hardball governing methods.
“You don’t get the assumption they are measuring drapes anymore— they are waiting for him to drop out,” one long-time Republican consultant in Tallahassee said of those working for the governor. The consultant, like others quoted in this story, was granted anonymity to freely discuss the sensitive situation.
…DeSantis’ troubles on the campaign trail have emboldened some in his party who are exhausted by his aggressive tactics. The state party last week rescinded a loyalty pledge that would have obligated the GOP primary candidates to endorse the eventual Republican presidential nominee, a stunning turnaround made at the behest of Trump supporters and against DeSantis’ wishes.
A major lobbyist in Tallahassee said: “There’s no love lost between the Legislature and DeSantis... They are faking it. They are waiting long enough to see the king drained of all his power. It’s a slow-motion coup.”
…[S]ome state lawmakers are still bitter that DeSantis’ campaign asked Florida lawmakers to fundraise for him ahead of the GOP debate in August, according to a former Republican officeholder who spoke with them.
“Few members of the Legislature have a relationship with Ron DeSantis,” the person said. “He’s like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. You can’t get to him. All you hear about is the great and powerful Oz.”
…State lawmakers will likely be hesitant to openly defy the governor in the immediate future. But the next legislative session, beginning in January, will be underway as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are voting, and early wins by Trump could effectively end DeSantis’ campaign and dilute his clout in Florida.
Asked about the governor’s standing in Florida, the Trump campaign described DeSantis as “dropping like a rock,” and “failing badly.”
This week, three different Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation, including Trump stalwarts Reps. Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds, also began floating their names as candidates for the governor’s race that’s three years away, a move viewed by many as a sign of DeSantis’ waning influence since they wouldn’t rely on his endorsement.