Ron DeSantis, Unite & Win Rally
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) speaking with attendees at a "Unite & Win Rally" in Phoenix, AZ. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis learns that, when you compete for oxygen with Donald Trump, you come up gasping for air.

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When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was handed the most recent New Hampshire poll yesterday, we bet he wished that there were some classified documents he could steal so that he could be prosecuted and later claim to be the victim of a witch hunt. 

While it is an exercise in futility to try to parse every one of the dozens of state and national polls that are released each week, this one was striking. In January, DeSantis led former President Donald Trump by 12 points in the Granite State. Now, he is polling at 12 percent total in New Hampshire.

It is pretty clear that DeSantis is headed the wrong way — and fast. If he isn’t careful, then he will lose the mantle of “Trump’s biggest challenger,” which never fit him all that well to begin with, and become the guy who used to be Trump’s biggest challenger but now is an “also-ran” who should spare himself further embarrassment and drop out.

We predicted this three weeks ago, but the decline of DeSantis has been more swift than anybody could have imagined.

Twelve percent!? Just for the novelty of it, a well-trained parrot that has been taught to say “Make America Great Again. Woke is bad!” could get 12 percent in a Republican primary.

In the weeks since officially declaring his candidacy, DeSantis has (or should have) learned some hard truths. The two most important ones are that he is not good at this and that, when you try to compete with Trump for oxygen, you come up gasping for air.

The media’s non-stop coverage of the former president hasn’t done DeSantis any favors.

Just a few weeks ago, things were easier. Every one of his cruel stunts received all kinds of attention. The right-wing media feted him for fighting Woke War I. Traditional news outlets, on the other hand, were horrified by his carefully manufactured cruelty, which is even better for a Republican these days.

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But you cannot compete for attention with Donald Trump — just as you can’t compete with him for his most loyal voters. They will like you well enough if you fight the same battles, but they won’t stand for attempted deicide.

And that’s really been the biggest (and most baffling) error DeSantis has made. He should have waited to become Trump’s heir apparent instead of trying to push him off his throne.

Now, it is still possible that the former president goes away somehow… for example to federal prison (although that might still help him more than hurt him in a GOP primary). However, it is clear that DeSantis can’t remove him. He just has to hope that it happens somehow, which is a strategy that hasn’t worked yet for any Republican.

The smartest move for DeSantis would be to call it quits, pretend this was all some hilarious prank, go back to picking on teachers, and hope that Republican voters will forget about his betrayal in four years.

But that won’t happen.

Instead, it is more likely that DeSantis might try to look for a game changer. There is just one problem: It’s tough to change the game when your opponent makes up the rules as he goes along.

Still, that probably won’t dissuade DeSantis, so we wouldn’t be surprised if he were to resort to what previously worked for him: using the power of his office to be cruel to vulnerable populations.

So, if you are part of any minority in Florida, especially a “woke” one, look out. Governor Tough Guy is coming for you to prove to GOP voters, and himself, that he is the ultimate culture warrior. 


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