DeSantis Faces Uphill Battle in Iowa As He Struggles to Differentiate Himself

In the midst of a daunting Iowa campaign, Ron DeSantis grapples with skepticism, winter storms, and the looming shadow of Trump, as he strives to differentiate his bid for the Republican nomination and navigate the crucial upcoming Iowa caucus. Here’s the full story. 

Revenge Best Served Cold

Amid a lackluster presidential campaign, Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, is facing a critical moment in Iowa as he struggles to secure support for the Republican nomination for President. Despite his several disappointing attempts to climb out from under the shadow of former President Donald Trump, DeSantis has been met with nothing less than full throated concern and a deep seated skepticism from within his own party.

With a life threatening winter weather storm sweeping into the state, the stage has been set for DeSantis to have one last chance to try to bring his presidential aspirations in from the cold. 

The DeSantis campaign got off to a famously rocky start, as the Florida Governor made history by launching his campaign with a Twitter live event, which was beset by glitches, poor attendance and a rather awkward interview from the site’s new owner, Elon Musk.

Since then DeSantis’ unapologetically right wing approach has not resonated as well as would be expected with the Republican base. Despite these challenges, DeSantis tried to put on a brave face ahead of the uphill battle he faces in Iowa. From its inception with a glitchy Twitter live event, DeSantis’s campaign has faced unexpected challenges.

“They can throw a blizzard at us, and we are gonna fight. They can throw wind chill at us, and we are gonna fight. They can throw media narratives at us, and we are gonna fight,” DeSantis declared in his address at the West Des Moines offices of Never Back Down, the Super Pac supporting his bid for president.

The Struggle for an Identity

From the start Desantis has endevored to present himself as more than just a pale imitation of Trump, by, recounting instances where he opposed the Trump administration’s approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this attempt to carve out a distinct identity has encountered significant resistance, particularly from younger voters who perceive him as emulating Trump’s rhetoric without offering a compelling alternative.

Patrick McDonald, a student at Hillsdale College, a private Christian school, who had come to see the Iowa caucus commented, “He’s perceived as trying to be a Trump wannabe, of bringing in bombastic rhetoric, copying some of Trump’s policies.”

While DeSantis has attempted to rally Republican support, serious concerns have emerged about his electability against incumbent President Joe Biden in the election. Nikki Haley, DeSantis main competition for the second place slot behind Trump, has recently been touted as a more viable candidate, adding to doubts about DeSantis within the Republican party rank and file.

The need for a candidate with a realistic chance of reclaiming the White House has become a focal point for Republican voters. Nancy Wildanger, after hearing both DeSantis and Haley speak at rallies, stated, “She said nothing wrong. DeSantis said nothing wrong. But, statistically, I think she has a better chance, and we need someone with a better chance.”

The Underdog Mentality

As an attempt to awknowdelge the challenges he faces, DeSantis has tried to adopt an underdog mentality in the lead up to the Iowa caucuses. In a recent interview with ABC news, he downplayed the significance of polling, consistently showing him lagging behind, as he emphasised his preference for lower expectations leading to better outcomes.

This attempt at strategic positioning aligns with his stated belief that being underestimated can be an advantage in the political arena. DeSantis expressed exactly this sentiment, stating, “It’s good to be an underdog. We’re going to do well, but I’d rather have people count us out. I’d rather have people lower expectations for us. I tend to perform better like that.”

The serious challenges for DeSantis are reflected in recent polling data, where he lags behind both Trump and Haley. These poll results underscore Trump’s continued dominance within the Republican Party and the challenge faced by any contender attempting to challenge the former president’s significant influence.

Consistent poll results showing more bad news for the DeSantis campaign stand as a testament to Trump’s ability to consolidate support even amid several ongoing legal challenges. The NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa survey released Saturday shows DeSantis as the first choice of only 16% of voters, compared to 20% for Haley and 48% for Trump.

Failure to Shift the Narrative

Political analysts argue that DeSantis, along with the other candidates, has failed to effectively present the Republican primary as a viable option, with many voters viewing the upcoming election as a vote for or against Trump.

This inability to reshape the narrative has seriously hampered DeSantis’s chances of positioning himself as a credible alternative to Trump, leaving his campaign in a precarious position ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Dave Peterson, a political science professor at Iowa State University, observes, “This race is a referendum in the Republican party on Donald Trump.”

Petersons own polling for Iowa State University shows Trump well in the lead, with DeSantis tied for joint second place.

After Iowa

The outcome of the Iowa caucuses hangs over the DeSantis campaign like a proverbial sword of Damocles. Should the outcome place his campaign anywhere below a second place finish, then his ability to compete seriously in subsequent states will be severely jeopardized.

Meanwhile, a colossal winter storm threatens to impact voter turnout, adding further woes to the  DeSantis campaign. In the face of adversity, DeSantis emphasizes the importance of his supporters’ commitment, stating, “If you’re willing to go out there, and you’re willing to fight for me, if you’re willing to bring people to the caucus… then as president, I’ll be fighting for you for the next eight years.”

Whether he will ever get that chance depends entirely on the voters of Iowa. 

The post DeSantis Faces Uphill Battle in Iowa As He Struggles to Differentiate Himself first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Hunter Crenian.

Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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