It’s hard to go on social media and not find someone pronouncing the DeSantis campaign as being dead in the water. I’ve seen enough posts desperately making the argument that he GOP primary was over long before it began, and anything other than crowning Trump the victor before a single debate is even held or a single vote cast is met with a chorus of mockery. I should know as I get plenty of hate mail for pointing out that DeSantis has plenty of time to eclipse Trump.
It’s not just the liberal media that seems to thrive on the narrative that DeSantis is choking. One of the common narratives is that his campaign launch was a disaster, even though the launch brought in record-breaking haul of $8.2 million in campaign donations in the first 24 hours following the announcement. Clearly, there is a considerable base of individuals who believe in his leadership and policy agenda.
Last week, the DeSantis campaign released its first quarter fundraising numbers, and they showed he raised a whopping $20 million since launching his campaign on May 24. The campaign noted it was the “largest first-quarter filing from any non-incumbent Republican candidate in more than a decade,” and that it even “bests the $18.3 million former president and quasi-incumbent Donald Trump’s campaign raised during his first two fundraising quarters as a candidate ($3.8 in Q4 2022 and $14.5 in Q1 2023).”
Nevertheless the narrative continues. On Fox News on Sunday, host Maria Bartiromo implied DeSantis is dying politically, and asked him outright, “[W]hat’s going on with your campaign? There was a lot of optimism about you running for president earlier in the year.” Then she cited some media headlines about his supposedly lackluster campaign.
“Maria, these are narratives. The media does not want me to be the nominee,” DeSantis explained. “I think that’s very clear. Why? Because they know I’ll beat Biden but even more importantly, they know that I will actually deliver on all these things. We will stop the invasion at the border. We will take on the drug cartels. We will curtail the administrative state. We will get spending under control. We will do all the things that they don’t want to see done and so they are going to continue doing the type of narrative. I can tell you we understand that this is a state-by-state process.”
He’s right, of course. But not everyone sees it that way. “Does Ron DeSantis want to be the nominee?” asks Daniel Flynn at The American Spectator. “From the disastrous online launch met with technical difficulties to the ill-advised ad attacking Donald Trump for basically expressing a live-and-let-live attitude toward homosexuals, Florida’s governor does not so much run as he stumbles for president.”
I would argue that’s a bit unfair. Flynn does make the point that DeSantis shouldn’t be discounted yet: “The good news? Bill Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden, and others struggled early before winning the presidential nomination of their parties.”
DeSantis has a massive war chest and is laying down the groundwork for the long game. Considering how early it is, and DeSantis’s knack for winning, I wouldn’t count him out yet. Not by a long shot.