OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made his 2024 presidential candidacy official this week with a glitchy but ultimately successful launch during a Twitter Spaces online event, but it’s obvious he has an uphill climb to unseat the GOP’s current polling frontrunner, Donald Trump.
According to a survey released on Friday, the former president holds a substantial 25-point lead in the key primary state of South Carolina.
“Scheduled to be held Feb. 24, following the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, South Carolina is widely considered to be an important state toward securing the GOP’s nomination,” Newsmax reported.
In a recent survey conducted by National Research Inc. on behalf of American Greatness, Trump secured a strong lead in the Palmetto State with 43 percent support among likely Republican voters. Following behind was DeSantis with 18 percent, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott with 12 percent, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley with 10 percent.
Haley was the first to declare her presidential run after Trump did so in November. Scott declared his candidacy earlier in the week ahead of DeSantis’ official launch.
A total of 13% said they were undecided or had other preferences, including former Vice President Mike Pence (1%), businessman Vivek Ramaswamy (1%), New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (1%), and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (1%).
Trump was way ahead of DeSantis when likely GOP voters were asked:
- Which candidate is the best to improve our economy (60% to 11%)
- Which is seen as a stronger voice against far-left progressives (42% to 20%)
- Which is more compassionate to your needs (36% to 19%).
Following his launch, DeSantis made the media rounds, including an appearance on Newsmax TV’s “Eric Bolling The Balance,” where he said he appreciated Trump’s previous accomplishments during his term as president.
“Most of our voters appreciate a lot of the things that President Trump did,” DeSantis said. “I do. He’s been attacking me a lot, but I still give him credit for the things that he did well, especially with the economy in the first three years.”
The Florida governor managed to pull in $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after his announcement, which dwarfs the $6.3 million then-former Vice President Joe Biden raised in the 24 hours after his launch in 2019.
“I’m running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback. We announced that on Twitter Spaces earlier tonight, and it broke the internet because so many people were excited about being on that Twitter Space. Now let’s see if we can break WinRed,” DeSantis said in a video message on launch day, Wednesday, referencing the Republican Party’s fundraising platform.
According to Bryan Griffin, a DeSantis spokesman, $1 million was raised within an hour of DeSantis’ announcement.
“There was so much enthusiasm for Governor DeSantis’ vision for our Great American Comeback that he literally busted up the internet. Washington is next,” Griffin noted in a tweet.
Trump’s team responded to the fundraising haul.
“After a three month shadow campaign, including a legislative session that clearly leveraged Florida taxpayer money to elevate his fundraising efforts, DeSantis was still not able to raise enough money to make up for his botched campaign launch. His record of targeting senior benefits, wanting to raise taxes, and withholding funding for the border wall makes this campaign dead on arrival. No amount of money will change that,” Alex Pfeiffer, spokesman for Make America Great Again Inc., said, according to the New York Post.
Most surveys for months have had Trump at the top of the GOP primary race with DeSantis in second place, though in some surveys, a close second. But a USA Today-Suffolk University poll in December actually “found that 56 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters prefer DeSantis, while only 33 percent would support Trump,” The Hill reported at the time.
According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, both Trump and DeSantis currently top Biden.