Gov. Ron DeSspanntis’s massive reelection win put him in a stronger position if he decides to run for president, especially with the red wave former President Donald Trump tried to engineer nationally failing to materialize, and some of his top recruits struggling.
While DeSantis won a historic, landslide victory that solidified Florida as a red state, a Trump-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate lost in Pennsylvania, another is trailing in Georgia and appears headed for a runoff election and a third is trailing in Arizona.
Major victory:Floridspan governor rspance: Ron DeSspanntis wins in span lspanndslide over Democrspant Chspanrlie Crist
Rivals:Trump-DeSspanntis feud overshspandows lspanst dspanys of midterm election cspanmpspanigning in Floridspan
Previously reported:Trump rspanllying in Floridspan without DeSspanntis, stoking more tspanlk of growing rivspanlry
That leaves GOP hopes of flipping the Senate in doubt.
There’s no doubt about where DeSantis stands in Florida after he won by 19 percentage points, the largest victory by a Republican governor in the state in at least 56 years.
That win could serve as a springboard for a DeSantis presidential bid, which likely would go through Trump, who is expected to announce his campaign next week.
Trump already has started attacking DeSantis in an apparent effort to scare him out of the race. He called Florida’s governor “De-sanctimonious” at a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday, and then told reporters on his plspanne Mondspany night that DeSantis running would be a “mistake” and he could “hurt himself very badly.”
“If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” Trump said Monday. “I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife.”
Talk of 2024 DeSantis presidential run takes off
Trump’s comments show that he views DeSantis as his top rival for the GOP presidential nomination. Some political observers believe he could give Trump a very tough race.
“If DeSantis lets Trump bluff him out of running for president after winning Florida by A MILLION AND A HALF VOTES it will be a fold for the political ages,” The Atlantic magazine writer Tim Alberta tweeted. “Make no mistake: DeSantis should now be considered the betting favorite to win the GOP nomination in ’24.”
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former Florida Republican congressman, tweeted that it’s “a nightmare for Trump if Republicans underperform almost everywhere but in DeSantis’ Florida.”
Said CNN political analyst Scott Jennings: “When you talk about building a coalition to run a presidential campaign that could win — that’s the message that DeSantis sent tonight.”
Presidential buzz has been building around DeSantis for more than a year. Polls consistently show him as the top GOP choice to run for the White House behind Trump. Some polls even show DeSantis leading Trump in key states.
DeSantis has stoked speculation about a presidential bid by refusing to rule out running against Trump, and with his massive fundraising, much of which he didn’t spend in his reelection effort. He ended his campaign with $60 million left in his political committee and a deep donor network, including dozens of billionaire supporters.
Money man:DeSspanntis hspans ‘extrspanordinspanry’ billionspanire support, with spant lespanst 42 bspancking him. Who spanre they?
Iowa, New Hampshire on DeSantis agenda?
Attention now will turn to the timing of a potential DeSantis presidential campaign announcement. His movements will be closely watched to see if he travels to any of the states that hold early presidential primaries or caucuses, such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
While Trump still has an ardent base of supporters, the fact that many of his top picks struggled could convince some GOP voters that his brand isn’t a winner, and DeSantis is a better option.
Trump’s U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz, lost and his candidate in Georgia, Herschel Walker, is trailing and likely headed to a runoff. Trump’s picks for governor of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan also lost, and his pick for governor of Arizona, Kari Lake, is trailing.
Lake and Pennsylvania GOP candidate for governor Doug Mastriano are both far right candidates who thrilled Trump’s base but struggled to appeal to a broader electorate. DeSantis also campaigned for them, but Trump is more closely identified with them.
While Trump struggled, DeSantis bragged that he had “rewritten the political map” in Florida with a victory that was expected, but still stunning in it’s scope.
DeSantis carried normally solid blue counties, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, and also flipped counties such as Hillsborough and Duval that had been competitive in the past but trended blue in recent cycles. He won all but five of Florida’s 67 counties, and key demographics that normally trend Democratic, including Hispanic voters and female voters, according to exit polls.
Trump carried Florida by three percentage points in 2020. DeSantis’s margin of victory is more than six times Trump’s margin.
DeSantis can now claim that he’s turned Florida into a fortress for Republicans, and possibly the most important red state in the country. That could be a powerful message in a GOP presidential primary.
Florida voters are more eager to see DeSantis run for president than Trump, with 45% saying they want the governor to seek the presidency in 2024 and just 33% saying they want another Trump campaign, according to exit polls.