‘Never’ Means Never

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On Wednesday Mike Pence was asked whether he’ll support his former running mate for president if that former running mate were to win the Republican nomination a third time. He dodged the question. When asked again, he gave this optimistic non-answer: “I’m very confident we’ll have better choices come 2024.”

That makes one of us, Mike.

Multiple polls published this week show Donald Trump gaining strength in the 2024 primary. The splashiest result, from Yahoo News and YouGov, found him leading Ron DeSantis 47-39; less than a month ago, DeSantis led by 4 points in the same poll. A separate poll from Echelon Insights saw Trump’s advantage balloon from 36-34 last month to 46-31 now. Another poll from Fox News matched that margin, placing Trump ahead of DeSantis 43-28. 

The optimistic explanation for the shift is that Trump is enjoying a temporary bounce driven by his visit to East Palestine, Ohio. Republican voters savored the “America First” symbolism of their leader prioritizing suffering U.S. citizens while the leader of the other party prioritized suffering Ukrainians by visiting Kyiv. On this reading, the uptick in Trump’s polling isn’t evidence that he’s “gaining strength.” It’s an ephemeral burst of goodwill coupled with the fact that most primary voters haven’t had a good look at DeSantis yet. Once they get one, the gap will close.

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