July 2, 2023


DeSantis's stalling campaign: how to lose friends and alienate people (Richard Luscombe, 2 Jul 2023, The Guardian)

By almost every measure, the rightwinger has had another lackluster week on the campaign trail, with "clumsy" missteps in New Hampshire, Texas, California and New York. Now, barely one month after his glitch-ridden launch on Twitter, DeSantis finds himself sinking in the polls, closer to the large field of optimists below him than the twice-indicted, twice-impeached former president who retains a stranglehold over the Republican party.

"The more voters learn about him, the less they can stomach the idea of him running the country," the online magazine Jezebel concluded.

There are competing theories over the reasons for DeSantis's decline. Analysts caution that with seven months still until primary season, and with Trump mired in legal troubles, it's far too soon to write him off.

"Primary elections are volatile and unpredictable. Don't believe anyone who says they know how this is going to turn out," said Stephen Craig, professor of political science and campaign expert at the University of Florida.

But it is clear that many of DeSantis's wounds are self-inflicted. In New Hampshire on Tuesday, he angered grassroots Republican women by scheduling a campaign event clashing with Trump's appearance at their flagship lunch, a "stupid" and "rookie" mistake in the eyes of Republican strategists.

In a similar breach of protocol in New York, he vexed local Republicans by arranging a fundraising event without the courtesy of a heads-up that he was in town, Politico reported.

Another dollar-raising trip, to California, with whose Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, he is openly feuding over his controversial migrant flights to Sacramento, also provided an opportunity for mockery. After DeSantis railed against homelessness, and claimed in a campaign ad to have witnessed people "defecating in the streets" during a "comically short" 20-minute trip to San Francisco, pictures of squalor in large Florida cities began appearing on Twitter.

And in perhaps the highest-profile "miss" of the week, DeSantis's big immigration policy reveal, made during a visit to the Texas-Mexico border on Monday, fell largely flat. Aggressive proposals such as deadly force against drug traffickers, separating migrant families, building a border wall and pledging to end birthright citizenship, enraged immigration advocates and failed to offer more to the Republican base than Trump's own agenda.

"I used to characterize DeSantis as an awful lot like Trump, but smarter, and I'm not sure that applies any more," Craig, the UF professor, said. "He just seems to be doing things that are not all that smart, his war with Disney for example, and some of the other things he does show a clumsiness that wasn't so much apparent before he began being a national figure.

You can't lose friends if you've never had one.

Posted by at July 2, 2023 7:34 AM