Ron DeSantis and the Most Politically Potent Path Past Trump

That didn’t take long. Donald Trump has been out of office for less than three months, and already another GOP politician is sucking all of the media oxygen out of the room. Already another GOP politician has emerged as a potential heir to Donald Trump, leading in the way-too-early polling of the 2024 GOP primary (at least when Trump’s own name isn’t in the mix). It’s Florida governor Ron DeSantis, and it’s worth spending a newsletter’s worth of time understanding why.

First, a caveat. I know it’s completely ridiculous to handicap the 2024 race. Present-day primary polling is (at best!) nothing more than a who’s-up, who’s-down snapshot of contemporary momentum and buzz. Things can change—quickly. But it’s fascinating to see someone else dominate political news so soon after Trump. 

Part of this is his own fault. Not even Trump can maintain a dominating public presence through inertia alone. He has to work to keep all eyes on him, and he’s simply not doing that work. At least not yet. 

Since Trump’s rise, we’ve seen the playbook for those who want to inherit his followers. It’s summed up in one word: fight. That’s Josh Hawley and his clenched-fist salute to the mob outside the Capitol. That’s Ted Cruz and his own-the-libs crusade du jour. That’s Tucker Carlson, every night. Find the enemy. Fix him in your sights. Fight him with every ounce of Twitter strength you can muster. 

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