Desantis Tumbles in New Hampshire Polls as the Field Zips Past Him

Once upon a time, Rick DeSantis looked like a solid Republican alternative if Donald Trump landed in prison. But a new poll in New Hampshire has the Florida Governor sweating out his own fate. Here is the full story.

Perfectly Poised as a Backup

A poll published by CNN and the University of New Hampshire on September 20 could signal trouble for Florida Governor Rick DeSantis.

All throughout 2023, DeSantis has polled a distant but solid second to Donald Trump in the runup to the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

But with the former President facing a mountain of legal trouble and the very real possibility of a prison sentence, DeSantis was in a perfect position as the GOP’s fallback candidate.

Dramatic Shift in New Hampshire Polls

The results of the New Hampshire poll, though, show that the landscape has changed dramatically this summer.

Coming off a strong showing at the August debate that pitted non-Trump Republican candidates against each other, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy surged to 13 percent support from poll respondents.

Meanwhile, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley got on the board at 12 percent, followed by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie at 11 percent.

DeSantis Took a Tumble

And, while Trump continued to lap the field with a 39 percent mark, the gap between him and DeSantis has never been wider.

In fact, the Florida Governor tumbled below Ramaswamy, Haley, and Christie.

With just 10 percent support, DeSantis’ only consolation is that he managed to stay ahead of South Carolina senator Tim Scott (6 percent) and former Vice President Mike Pence (2 percent).

DeSantis’ Base Alienated

So what’s at the root of DeSantis’ rapid fall from grace with voters?

Expert observers and GOP insiders say that DeSantis has managed to alienate both moderate Republicans and his conservative base.

Some point to his public tiff with Disney over his controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. DeSantis also threatened to sue Anheuser-Busch over their transgender ad campaign.

Too Friendly With RFK, Jr.

And the governor has rankled plenty of feathers by flirting with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., as a potential FDA figurehead if DeSantis wins the election. Kennedy has been one of the most high-profile vaccine skeptics and a frequent-flier conspiracy theorist.

Republican strategist Ed Rollins summed up the overall souring around DeSantis and his campaign when he spoke with Rolling Stone in July.

“I think he’s been a very flawed candidate,” Rollins said, adding that every time DeSantis opens his mouth, “he has a tendency to — shall we say — think out-loud, and he clearly doesn’t understand the game.” 

New Hampshire’s Track Record

Of course, New Hampshire is just one state. But it’s also one of the first states to hold primaries, with voters scheduled to go to the polls in March.

And New Hampshire also has a pretty good track record for picking the eventual winner of the Republican nomination. They’ve gotten each of the last five picks right.

So, with just a few months left to right the ship, DeSantis finds himself wallowing in the swamp with the rest of the GOP candidates. Time will tell whether he can pull himself back up to dry land.

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