There appears to be a growing sense of inevitability surrounding Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. And it is easy to understand exactly why. Once Trump was arrested for alleged crimes that are a stretch at best and undiluted political persecution at worst, all the other issues which ordinarily animate Republicans have apparently been swept aside – to Trump’s seemingly unending benefit.
That is the unmistakable conclusion of the latest survey of voters in the very state governed by his chief rival, Ron DeSantis. Indeed, considering the voters in Florida rewarded him with a landslide re-election victory, you would expect DeSantis to at least be highly competitive with the former president in his own state, if not well ahead. And in November, when Trump officially announced his candidacy, the Florida governor was right on track – leading Trump in the Sunshine State by 11 points according to a survey of 1000 likely GOP presidential primary voters throughout Florida conducted by Victory Insights.
But to say that has changed in the five months since DeSantis’ rousing victory would be an understatement. Trump has benefited from a 25-point swing in his direction and now leads DeSantis in his own backyard by 14 points. In fact, he blows away the entire field, whether head-to-head with DeSantis, or against the full field of announced challengers, including former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, the largely unknown former Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. And the entrance of other potential candidates such as former VP Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are unlikely to alter the equation.
All Trump, All the Time
Election Day is not yet in sight, so of course, much will transpire between now and then, but Trump’s indictment is not going away. It will undoubtedly be the elephant in every room. And let’s not forget that Trump faces further charges of election tampering in Georgia plus whatever Special Counsel Jack Smith can uncover, from January 6 fallout to the supposedly illegal possession of classified documents. The race for president has pivoted on the widespread belief that, if Trump is allowed to twist in the wind, the left will declare open season on not just Trump, but anyone who has dared support him. The whole affair has become larger even than Trump himself. It is about the injustice of it all. A growing number of Republicans feel they have no choice but to affirm their support for the man most of them already voted for once or twice.
In addition, think about the fact that the multiple candidates challenging Trump, all of whom have loudly protested the indictment, will essentially be forced to defend the frontrunner on the debate stage. All the attention will be on Trump and his martyrdom. In the atmosphere of a party primary, political persecution will supercede – yes, trump – all the other issues which would otherwise animate the debate. The stated preferences of Florida voters confirm that this turn of events bodes particularly poorly for Gov. DeSantis, who is liked and admired, but not yet loved, in Trumpist circles and beyond. The signs hoisted by Trump supporters outside Mar-a-Lago following his indictment by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said it all: Ron DeSantis for President 2028. In other words, we hear you kid, and we appreciate what you’ve done, but you need to wait your turn.
Few if any Democrats will openly admit it, but since that fateful January 6 most of them believe Trump has been rendered unelectable, and thus DeSantis would ultimately be a more formidable opponent. But that was before Trump was indicted. The actual arrest injects a wildcard if not a joker into the deck and may ironically serve to neutralize the several factors which would ordinarily provide DeSantis with a sizable advantage over Trump. DeSantis is 32 years younger. He carries substantially less baggage. He could serve until 2032 as opposed to 2028. His personality tempered by a career in politics offers broader appeal to the growing mass of independent voters. And he is not only wildly popular in the enormous and diverse state of Florida, where voter demographics mirror those of the nation writ large, but he has painted the Republicans’ single most significant electoral state a deep shade of red.
But increasingly, it appears, none of that really matters with Donald Trump on the ballot.
So if you are a Republican who believes, like an overwhelming majority of those in the GOP and many independents, that Trump’s indictment was politically motivated, will you follow where the left is trying to lead you – and most importantly, what direction is that, toward Trump or away from him? Will you support the 45th president if only to send a message to Democrats that their use of the justice system to target their political enemies won’t succeed – even if you actually prefer DeSantis or another candidate? That conundrum, that martyrdom now attached to him for better or worse, is now almost singlehandedly driving Donald Trump’s campaign for president – and producing a growing lead that makes his nomination appear ever more inevitable.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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