The 2024 US Presidential Elections are approaching, and a glooming orange cloud grows as each day progresses. On November 15th, 2022, Donald Trump announced that he would be officially running for President of the United States. While his presidency was various years ago, his influence and relevance on national politics remain. He still has a massive following, and his Make America Great Again fanatics are loud and proud. According to PredictIt, Trump is ranked 2nd in the probability of earning the 2024 Republican presidential nomination with 37% at the time of writing. While 37% is quite a significant metric, the newest face of the Republican Party could hinder his chances. Ronald “Ron” DeSantis, the current governor of Florida, sits at PredictIt’s first-place spot with 38%.
While a plethora of variables can be considered when analyzing the chances of winning a nomination or an election, Trump has highlighted the immense role of the media and the voters themselves. On the contrary to 2016, Trump is in a vastly different position concerning these factors. Thus, while the nomination race will be close, DeSantis has more than a 1% chance of getting the nomination than the former President.
Trump’s 2016 antics amassed immense media attention that has not been seen in decades. By the 286th day of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, he had garnered $1.9 billion in television attention compared to the $1.2 billion massed by the entirety of his Republican adversaries. Trump had earned the media as his advertising costs were a fractionate 10 million. The media’s obsession with the former President had reached staggering levels. Trump led 36% of the news coverage since the start of his campaign (including days when the top story was not campaign-related), 52% of the campaign-related news coverage, 68% of republican campaign-related news coverage, and 76% of republican candidate-related news.
Trump’s 2016 campaign caught an immense amount of attention, and while his presidency ended three years ago, he is still a relevant player in current political discourse. Nevertheless, we have been experiencing a progressive shift away from Trump and towards DeSantis by right-wing news outlets. To begin, the January 6th Capitol riots turned many against the former President, most notably Rupert Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch is an American-Australian businessman that owns many news outlets, including the bullhorn of Republican talking points, Fox News and the New York Post. Following January 6th, the New York Post released in an editorial that “Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.”.
Moreover, this divorce has continued. By July 29th 2022, Trump had not been interviewed on Fox News for over 100 days. According to individuals close to Murdoch and his son, the cynicism toward the former President goes to the top echelons of the corporation. Throughout 2022 Fox News did not air several of Trump’s rallies while giving prime-time interviews and coverage to DeSantis.
Furthermore, the GOP’s disappointment in the 2022 midterms led Conservative news outlets to use the former President as a scapegoat. Remarkably, Fox News expressed how many republicans see Trump as a deterrence for the party’s voter perception, the New York Post called him “Trumpty Dumpty” after being unable to be a source of unification, and The Wall Street Journal referred to Trump as the GOP’s “worst loser.”. Trump seems no longer to be the conservative media’s obsession and darling.
At its core, the only way to win elections is to gain votes. There are a variety of internal and external influences that play a part in our voting decisions. Nevertheless, the voters themselves are the defining element in victory or failure. However, people’s opinions are commonly not fully formed, contradictory, and even illogical. Voters commonly go against their self-interest and base themselves on emotion, not calculated analysis.
Considering this, we still have quantitative ways of measuring voters’ attitudes towards Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions. While Trump’s followers are remarkably outspoken, the tide has progressively shifted. A USA Today and Suffolk University poll showed that while 60% of Republicans wished for Trump to run again in July 2022, this figure has fallen to 47%. Furthermore, 61% of Republican-oriented voters desire Trump-style policies but with another person carrying them out. With this in mind, it is quite intuitive that this poll showed that the same voter base prefers DeSantis over Trump by 56% over 33%.
Other quantitative sources further cement Trump’s dwindling voter support. Monmouth University surveyed 566 GOP-oriented voters earlier this year and showed that DeSantis has a noticeable lead above Trump. Almost all of the party’s significant voter segments favor DeSantis, with a generalized 53% preferring DeSantis, contrary to 40% for Trump.
Still, the Trump fanaticism is immense, he has been out of office for nearly four years, and his followers are just as mobile. Segments of the political class have also garnered blind loyalty and mimicry. Trump has evidently become more than a politician. Notwithstanding, his showmanship, rhetoric, and eye-grabbing actions that have garnered such immense support can be replicated. DeSantis has been carrying out Trump-Esq actions that might be able to catalyze MAGA loyalists to transition. Showmanship, anti-immigration, and a culture war were central to Trump’s candidacy and presidency; DeSantis has been following suit in preparation for his presidential aspirations. DeSantis has been continuously regurgitating popular conservative culture-war talking points, “Florida is where woke goes to die”.
The governor of Florida has spearheaded the 2022 mania with Critical Race Theory, banning the race-oriented lens of interpretation of history, politics, and law, claiming that it spreads the idea that “a person by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.”. Moreover, DeSantis has passed a controversial Parental Rights in Education bill, also known as the Don’t Say Gay bill. The bill bans discussing sexuality and gender identity in certain grades. It even authorizes parents to file a lawsuit against a school district if they consider that their parental rights were violated. DeSantis continues to follow Trumpist phrasing by claiming that “In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida.”. These words could have come out directly from a Trump ad.
In addition, DeSantis has constantly maintained a strict immigration policy, mirroring Trump’s notorious policies, comments, and antics. In June 2022, DeSantis allocated $12 million to remove illegal immigrants from the state. Three months later, as a political ploy against NorthEaster Democrats, the earmarked money was utilized to collect up Venezuelan asylum seekers in Texas, not Florida, and transport them to Massachusetts. Governor DeSantis pridefully claimed credit for this operation that did not resolve the problem, resembled human trafficking, and mirrored President Trump’s infamous “build the wall” campaign. This appears to be a political ploy to attract attention and portray him as a leader who takes action, continuing the previously mentioned pattern.
Trump has a definite position of contention for the 2024 Republican nomination. Regardless, DeSantis might be the adversary that is sufficiently similar yet sufficiently different to gain the favor of the nation’s conservatives. The media and the voters have shown an evident shift from the former President to the Florida governor. Conservative media has had an evident fallout with Trump and have slowly begun showing their favor to DeSantis. Polls show that the electorate no longer sees Trump as their primary candidate and has done the opposite for DeSantis. While Trump’s support is widely connected to the irrational aspect of voter loyalty and fanaticism, DeSantis has the policies, actions, and rhetoric to persuade even his most loyal supporters to change their position.
The final result will be close; Trump cannot be underestimated. Nevertheless, DeSantis has yet to announce his candidacy officially and the chess board already shows a leveraged position for his gambit towards the nation’s highest office. Governor DeSantis has a better chance than his formidable rival, deserving more than a paltry 1% difference. The stakes are high, and the intensity is unmistakable in the drama surrounding the nomination campaign. However, if the 2016 election taught us anything, we must not rule out any outcomes as we anxiously await the events to take their course.
Featured image: Florida Governor-elect Ron DeSantis (R) sits next to U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting with Governors elects in the Cabinet Room at the White House on December 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images