Political forecasters predicted that a massive red wave would sweep Republicans back into control of Congress. The red wave did not happen. Conservative candidates, many hurt by lackluster funding and a weak message, were soundly defeated.
Republican strategists are left scratching their heads. However, one red wave did materialize. In Florida, victories in both the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races were more like red tsunamis. Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio ran away with their races.
DeSantis’ landslide victory over Charlie Crist was especially telling. As the country watched candidates endorsed by President Trump lose, many wondered how the disappointing midterm results would affect the Republican Party going forward.
According to a recent poll, the effect was demonstrative. The shift in appeal between the two front-running candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination was swift. Appeal with Republican voters virtually flipped overnight.
The YouGov poll produced some startling revelations. Roughly 1,500 U.S. adults were surveyed between November 9 and 11. Prior to this poll, virtually every other survey had former President Trump with a comfortable lead over his closest challenger.
That lead is no longer there. In fact, DeSantis has flipped the poll on its head. He now leads the former president by a full seven points. President Trump maintained a slim lead among those who identified as “strong Republicans.” His lead with this voter block was down to 2 points.
However, the Florida governor’s popularity among moderate Republicans and lean Republicans was overwhelming. The range of DeSantis’ appeal ranged from an average of 7 points to as much as 24 percentage points.
Less than one month ago, this same poll had President Trump leading Governor DeSantis by double digits. This support for the former president among Republican voters remained fairly constant for over a year. It’s not constant any longer.
Ahead of what is growing increasingly likely as a head-to-head battle with DeSantis for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, President Trump has taken off the gloves. He has already started to demean the popular governor.
While this attack-like strategy has worked in the past for the popular former president, many are worried it will backfire this time. Most of the individuals President Trump has verbally attacked have already been “less than popular” people. DeSantis does not fall into that category.
His appeal within the Republican Party is growing exponentially as well. DeSantis’ sweeping victory in Florida will only further cement this appeal. President Trump would do well to use caution before verbally assaulting an opponent on such an upward trajectory.
Missed arrows shot into the sky will fall back to earth. President Trump could find himself fending off political wounds from some of these errant arrows. President Trump still insists he’s about to make “a very big announcement” from his Mar-a-Lago home.
Most believe this will be him announcing his return to the political arena. However, he may be in for the fight of his political life this time. The Republican base is upset. They’re looking for a change. Ron DeSantis is looking more and more like that change.
Whether he chooses to run against the hard-punching President Trump remains to be seen. If this was a “made-for-the-big-screen” prize fight, Ron DeSantis would be like Rocky Balboa! After the dust settles from the Republican primary wars, we may hear, “Yo, Casey, I DID IT!”