DeSantis Can’t Sell Trump Lite

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives remarks at the Heritage Foundation's 50th Anniversary Leadership Summit on April 21, 2023, in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Just a few months ago, the conventional wisdom was hardening around the idea that the Republican presidential nominating contest was a two-man race between former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

But from the looks of the latest poll from the Wall Street Journal, it’s more of a one-and-a-half-man situation, with Trump doubling up DeSantis 48 percent to 24 percent among potential Republican primary voters with no other candidate or potential candidate drawing more than 5 percent.


The same poll shows that in a general election Trump would do substantially worse against President Joe Biden than DeSantis. But Republicans these days are not thinking about electability so much as they are about vengeance. Most Americans dread a repeat of the 2020 election, but lots of Republicans are eager for a do-over. Even the ones who accept the result as legitimate are prone to believe that if it hadn’t been for COVID restrictions, social media squelching of the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop, and whatever else, that Trump would have won.

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