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Is the end of the road near for Ron DeSantis?

Photo: Charlie Neibergall Associated Press An official from Ron DeSantis' main political action committee acknowledged that the candidate's employees, consultants and suppliers were “let go” in the wake of the Iowa caucuses.

Fabien Deglise

January 20, 2024 Analysis

  • United States

He thought the games were made for him in Iowa, a conservative state on which he had bet everything in the hope of securing a first place at the start of the Republican nomination. But, ultimately, nothing is going well for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who at the beginning of this week became the second choice of party voters, far behind Donald Trump.

Four days before the New Hampshire primary, next Tuesday, the man who had been presented, by launching into the race, as the most serious rival of the ex-president has opted for a discreet campaign in the Granite State, preferring to concentrate his efforts on the next stage of this race for the 2024 presidential election, namely South Carolina. A void that his campaign team has been filling for several days with comments on their candidate, who is still in good shape, according to those around him, and who has no intention of leaving the race. Even if several experts believe that this could very quickly become inevitable for him.

“Ron DeSantis doesn’t seem to know it yet, but his campaign is over,” summarizes Mark Mellman, Republican political advisor, in an interview, joined by Le Devoir in Washington this week. Nomination candidates usually stay too long in the electoral process of a primary and Ron DeSantis has already joined this club. “He won't win in New Hampshire, or even in South Carolina, and the nomination will slip away from him later,” he predicts.

On the eve of the vote in New Hampshire, the mathematics is indeed far from good for Ron DeSantis, who is now carried there by a single digit, at barely 6% in voting intentions, according to the latest survey launched in this state by Suffolk University on behalf of the Boston Globe. It was the day after the Iowa caucuses. He is left in the dust by Nikki Haley (36%), former United States ambassador to the United Nations, whom he nevertheless beat by a few points in Iowa, and especially by Donald Trump, who seems to continue his rise towards victory. Fifty percent of Republican voters say they want to vote for him on Tuesday in this corner of New England.

It is also in this tiny margin that the ex-president decided to push his opponent Tuesday evening, during a political rally in Atkinson, New Hampshire, by claiming not to want to “waste time” on talking about Ron DeSantis and preferring instead to reserve his attention and his arrows for Nikki Haley, more threatening to the populist in this state.

Staff cuts

While Donald Trump celebrated his victory the day before, the governor of Florida was forced to make difficult decisions, having to lay off members of his political staff in several states, including in those where the primaries will be held in the coming months.

An official with Ron DeSantis' main political action committee, Never Back Down, acknowledged that several of the candidate's employees, consultants and suppliers were “let go” in the wake of the Iowa caucuses , this week, including in the very strategic “crisis unit” of the aspiring president of the United States, reported the Washington Postthis week. On the LinkedIn network, the director of operations of this committee in Iowa announced that he had become a “free agent”, the day after the caucuses, “due to budget cuts beyond [his] control”, wrote George Andrews.

Through a press release, the president of Never Back Down, Scott Wagner, however sought to minimize the impact of this news by being reassuring about the future of things for his candidate. He claimed to have “mobilized several members of [his] strong Iowa team in the upcoming primary states to continue working to elect Governor DeSantis.”

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Nevertheless, the candidate remains shy in New Hampshire, where, on Wednesday evening, one of his political meetings took place in a vineyard in Derry, in front of a small group of 60 people in a cellar, several local media reported, far from the large rallies that punctuated his unsuccessful Iowa campaign. On Friday, he was expected at a small hotel in Nashua for a dinner with a handful of supporters, followed by a visit to an Irish pub in Dover, near the border with Maine.

“Ron DeSantis has never managed to appeal to New Hampshire voters because of his penchant for always starting culture wars to attract attention and voters, the kind of thing that doesn't work very well here,” the political scientist assures in an interview. Russell Muirhead, joined at Dartmouth College, Granite State. And I predict his campaign will end the day after the New Hampshire primary. »

A scenario in which his team and several of his allies do not want to believe, they who instead encourage their foal to consider this campaign as a long-distance race that could allow him to win the Republican nomination by national convention next July by accumulating as many delegates as possible in each state, rather than symbolic and spectacular victories. A strategy that could pay off in the end, according to them.

Hope of a plan B

In Iowa, last week, one of Ron DeSantis' representatives during the state caucuses actually urged the candidate to stay in the race until the Republican convention, “because the first person” to win the nomination ” could be in prison,” he said, according to comments reported by an American political journalist on the X network. Donald Trump, who leads in the polls, is in fact facing 91 charges in four separate cases and trials which, during the campaign, could result in guilty verdicts. His name could also be excluded from the ballots in several states, due to his contribution to the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, which he encouraged. A prospect that he seeks to avoid by going through the Supreme Court.

But for political advisor Alex Conant, who oversaw communications for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign in 2016, even if hope can keep Ron DeSantis alive, weakened by this start to the campaign, he ” cannot be a viable political strategy, he summarized in the pages of Washington Post this week. “If he can’t beat Trump in Iowa, a state where he put everything on the table, he won’t beat him anywhere,” he assures.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116