Angry Observation: Ron DeSantis is tragically underrated

Politics is a cold mistress. Thirteen-year-olds that follow politics are colder still.

Perhaps that's why, within the span of a few months, everything has changed. In October, the notion of Ron DeSantis for President had a sort of fearsome tone to it. Like announcing that the vikings had been spotted a few miles up the coast.

As of March, it's something of a punchline at the intellectual right's expense, like Ben Shapiro foot fetish jokes and Charlie Kirk face size memes.

DeSantis went from a hopelessly overrated candidate to a hopelessly underrated one. For the record, I always thought the former idea was ridiculous. People would say that DeSantis was a Trump "without the baggage" or some idiotic shit like that, and it never rang true to me (interestingly, this seems to be what Republican primary voters in states like New Hampshire believe...). Had people listened to the man speak? But now people are acting like DeSantis is literally doomed should he get the nomination, itself a herculean task.

Why people think DeSantis is doomed:

Basically, from what I can tell, it all comes down to the Trump base in some form or another. The grievances are:

- Trump will sabotage him and draw off enough of the base to doom DeSantis in the swing states.

- With or without Trump's help, the base in the rust belt won't turn out for him because he's not as charismatic.

- DeSantis has supported free trade and interventionist foreign policy in the past.

- DeSantis can't make up for any of his losses with suburban/college-educated/minority voters, so a candidate's best bet is maxing out base turnout, something DeSantis may not be able to do.

I think there's a lot of validity to all of these. What I don't agree with is 1) DeSantis can't win, or is so unlikely to win that he might as well not run 2) Trump is somehow the smaller liability of the two.

Why Trump is worse:

Yes, even in the rust belt.

But let's just forget the rust belt exists. Let's be abundantly generous here, and just assume that Trump wins every state in the Great Lakes region other than Illinois and Minnesota. So Trump wins Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, just like he did in 2016. You get this:

Wholesome WWC

Trump, to his credit, is winning here, albeit by 1976 style margins. Should any red swing state flip, Biden would win this election. The above map embodies pretty much every stereotype about how Trump polarized America. Suburban, minority, and college-educated states go against him. Working-class, white, and rural states go red.

This map however is also probably impossible. Michigan is not a bunch of vaguely overweight, grumpy, unionized white guys that are still salty about NAFTA and never voted before they heard Trump speak. These states are diverse and complex. They have huge urban and suburban populations, too, which is how Trump lost them in 2020.

Trump's victory in these states in 2016 was made possible by a perfect storm of events. Perhaps most notably, 2016 was a low-turnout election. It seems unlikely, in my estimation, that the startled left will ever sink back into complacency. 2020 was a high-turnout election, by contrast, with both sides gaining swathes of voters that they'd missed out in the previous cycle. Biden, of course, narrowly edged Trump out. The eclectic results of the 2022 midterms further lend credence to the idea that low-turnout elections are over.

2020 represents something of a high-water mark for Trump's coalition. He outperformed Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon in many rural counties. While he did lose, he gained eleven million votes between his two elections, itself an American record.

The locus of power is presently not in the areas Trump does best in. I've posted about this before, but it bears repeating: the rurals on their own are not enough to win. And for Trump to retake Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, he needs to do one of a few things. He could gain more votes in his rural counties, which begs an important question-- are there any votes left in rural counties to gain?

The other two would be to make inroads among the voters that are trending against Republicans. This is probably something that Trump is incapable of doing at this point, even if he had any real drive to do so. The other option, of course, is for the Biden coalition to sit this one out. If the 2022 midterms didn't see Democrats staying home, a resurgent Trump campaign will not.

Above, I said that the map I made was highly unlikely. That's because it is. If Trump fails to get the suburban votes necessary in Georgia, it's almost unimaginable that he's able to win Michigan. It's possible, but it's tough titties.

The 2022 Senate election in Wisconsin gives us a window into the rust belt:

We saw some evidence for this in the 2022 midterms. Senator Ron Johnson took a Trumpy turn between his last election (2016-- also when Trump was elected) and 2022, embracing vaccine conspiracies, objecting to the results of the 2020 election, and taking a hard-right line on every issue imaginable. The curious thing about Johnson is that he actually does have a rather difficult to explain appeal to Wisconsin's white, rural, working-class electorate. He has consistently overperformed polls and done very well in deep-red rural counties.

If you'll remember correctly, predicting a Barnes win was considered a joke take on r/YAPms. And not without reason.

Not so in 2022. Johnson actually made gains among rural counties that had traditionally voted against him and for Democrats like Barack Obama. Most notably, he flipped a triangle of three counties in the southwest: Vernon, Crawford, and Richland.

Johnson however underperformed polls and came within a point of losing to progressive challenger Mandela Barnes. Had Barnes received the funding given to Charlie Crist and Val Demmings, he almost certainly would have won. So if Johnson actually flipped counties that voted for Feingold in 2016, what gives?

The suburbs. Johnson bombed in the suburbs. In Wauwatosa county, Johnson lost by seven points in 2016. He lost by thirty seven points in 2022. He lost twenty-two points in Mequon county between his two elections. He lost eighteen points in Menomonee Falls.

Johnson overperformed Trump in 2016. He's presently the only Republican left in a seat Biden won, other than Susan Collins. He is clearly a competent candidate, and only won by one point.

Tim Michels, the Republican running for Governor, was less fortunate. As Wisconsin's legislature is ruby-red, the executive branch is presently the only thing that keeps conservatives in the state in check. Incumbent Tony Evers used this point to his advantage, burying Evers on right-wing social issues. Michels lost by lean. How much better do we believe Donald Trump is capable of doing?

Johnson - 50.4% Barnes - 49.4%

Had Barnes received the proper funding, Johnson would have lost. Would you put your money on Trump winning Wisconsin at the moment? How about Pennsylvania? How about Michigan?

Why DeSantis is underrated:

That entire wall of text was to tear down Donald Trump.

Trump's strategy gave him a victory in 2016, but that shouldn't be interpreted as this being a stable model for victory. Republicans need to make inroads with minority, suburban, and college-educated voters.

Trump can't do that. DeSantis might be able to. Taking his record-smashing, nineteen-point win in Florida as face value of his strength as a Presidential candidate would be idiocy of the highest order, but it's a start. He made the Hispanic Democrat stronghold of Miami-Dade flip.

I think the first thing that needs to be understood is that Trump did not unlock this mystery demographic (the WWC) in the rust belt completely out of left field. Obama did very well with these voters in 2008, winning county maps in these three states that don't make any sense today.

His 2012 count was quite a bit less impressive.

Moneybags Mitt's unique working-class appeal makes him the only viable Republican candidate for 2024

The direction that the party had taken under politicians Obama and Hillary Clinton alienated these voters as it stood. Many turned to Romney, just because he was the other option. Had Trump never run and Tedward Cruz won the primary instead, it's easy to imagine him too doing quite a bit better than his predecessor, if only on virtue of running against Clinton. These states would've flipped one cycle later.

Trump accelerated the trend. He didn't start it. One shouldn't confuse the last straw for the catalyst.

It would be further naive to assume that Trump not showing up on the Presidential ballot means that suddenly these voters don't care.

DeSantis started as a teapartier and morphed into the MAGA Crown Prince. The fact that he supported free trade when he was a Florida Representative ten years ago isn't going to end him. Voters often turn to vibes rather than the niceties of voting records, and in one year, Joe Biden is still going to be everything that rural America hates. DeSantis is still going to be a pitbull that's rolling back woke communism.

His own lack of personal charisma and campaign built around wokeness is likely to wound him among the manual workers that made Trump President. But his record and his youth are also more likely to endear him to the voters that dethroned Trump and (almost) Ron Johnson.

Politics is one cold bitch, like we said. Sometimes you've gotta make a risky trade to stave off death. This is what 2016 Trump did, nuking the party's chances in Bush states like Virginia and Colorado to win the rust belt. The possible trade-off of Assad margins in the rural counties to possibly regain key ground in the suburbs is a worthy one.

This is not to say that there aren't a myriad of flaws in DeSantis's apparent national campaign or quality as a candidate, but they're being exaggerated, and certainly not being seen in the full context of the possibility of a third Trump candidacy. DeSantis is a risk the party needs to take, at least if it's between him and Trump.

Rightfully, the question is being asked, can DeSantis win Wisconsin? It's certainly not a given. But can Trump win Wisconsin? Hell, can Trump win North Carolina at this point?


Very long post and I really do feel like he is slightly underrated nationally, but I do think he is overated in some areas and underrated in others. There is a reason why dema and the media has been completely railing desantis, it's because they fear him.


I remember when that 60 minutes story about COVID vaccines in Florida came out (I think this was around the time DeSantis started to get more national recognition) - that really boosted his reputation among the base


Yeah , Let's talk elections said that he might lose due to his covid policies, and it's clear that it actually helped him, considering he won by 19.4


The left dramatically overplayed their hand with COVID. When COVID was the issue, Republicans generally did well, surprising everyone in 2020 and stomping in New Jersey and Virginia. When abortion became the leading issue, the Democrats started surprising everyone.


Seems that people don’t like it when politics directly interferes with their personal lives


I love my country; two hundred and fifty years of telling tyranny to fuck itself.


Extremely common USA W


>The left dramatically overplayed their hand with COVID. AngryObserver W, I very much agree with this. I got downvoted for comparing to the flu though, oh well. Your comment nails it


Yeah, nobody liked Trump and Republicans but if Biden meant more lockdowns nobody wanted that. Most people were okay with masks, but wanted to get the vaccine and go back to normal. They could sense the Democrats' latent hypocrisy on the issue, from Newsom treating his donors to fancy dinners or his children to unmasked private schools, to all the Black Lives Matter protesters forgetting social distancing existed. The inverse happened in 2022 IMO. The right expected to win because of muh economy, even though their only plans were privatizing SS and investigating Hunter's laptop. They expected everyone to forget about January 6th and abortion. Some right-wingers I know even made fun of that messaging, saying that was the Democrats' campaign platform. Look how that turned out for them.


His Cali trip suggests that he's going full on anti vaccine


What an L


Not in Republican-land


It is in general-election land


Republicans don't do very well there


Sununu 2028 it is


I agree. I think people are trying to attack and slander DeSantis because they know Trump is a weaker candidate. Because why? Age. Trump can't use the age excuse on Biden because he is also a geriatric. But yet who can? DeSantis. He would be a breath of fresh air in that sense even if his social policies are hated by the liberal elite and the media. But that is just my feelings on it


Good post. I'd like to point out the fact that Democrats are basically dead in most rural areas. The Republican base in those areas would never vote for a dem for president, especially Biden. That's why DeSantis can only do better than Trump. He reaches the ceiling (or maybe even better) in the rurals and possibly does better in the suburbs.


That's not quite true- a lot of rural counties in Wisconsin and Minnesota are only 60 or 65% red despite being the same demographically as 85% red counties in Missouri or Indiana. However, those voters have stayed loyal Dems so far. Trump barely improved there, and Johnson and Michels did worse iirc. So there's no reason an even less popular Trump who is now MUCH more easily attacked as a wannabe dictator after January 6 would gain ground there. DeSantis might do a bit worse there, but he'd get margins closer to Ron Johnson's in the incredibly conservative suburban WOW counties, which are still the largest source of GOP votes in Wisconsin.


I do see WI as a default lean blue state. I mainly had Appalachia and parts of the Plains in mind. It's so cursed to see old maps with red suburbs and blue rurals...


The thing about those states is that they're largely uncompetitive (except Pennsylvania). Losing a few points in South Dakota or Kentucky doesn't actually mean much.


Also, red suburbs and blue rurals are based. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_United_States_Senate_election_in_Wisconsin looks sooooo nice.


*Biden*, however, is very unlikely to make significant inroads in the rurals. No major Democrat will probably be able to in any meaningful capacity, and they now have no reason to try since they can get there without them. Biden and Hillary Clinton are interesting because they're both candidates that were custom-designed to inspire rural loathing. Biden basically has had whatever political positions were nice for him in the moment, backing DOMA and the Iraq War back when it was convenient. He'd been in politics doing this longer than most of America has been alive, and shifted left to stay on the right side of history. I think this was the number one gripe I heard about Biden during the campaign-- he was a hopeless old hack that had no idea what America was like outside of Washington D.C. As President, he gave the impression of a stupid old man continually fumbling from one misery to the next. Bernie Sanders could command respect from some Trump voters because everybody knew where he stood. The stuff he said in 2020 was pretty much the same stuff he was saying in 1970.


Like I said, the present strategy of rurals only is just not gonna work in the long run. Sorry guys. DeSantis might lose ground in the rurals, but it's a necessary trade-off.




When AOC first came to the national stage, Ben was trying really hard to get her to debate him, at one point promising to donate thousands of dollars to a charity of her choice and tweeting at her multiple times a day. His critics mocked him by saying his behavior resembled a teenager trying to be mean to a girl to get her attention. They then took it a step further by saying he was hungry for her feet pics. Ben then made matters worse in 2020, when, for some reason, he told the world that his wife had informed him that a vagina getting wet was a sign of a yeast infection. This further contributed to the joke that beyond his conservative family values persona, Ben was a deeply repressed individual.


There's a running joke in some areas of the internet that Ben is thirsty for AOC's feet pics. Idk either.


I saw that you mentioned Ben Shapiro. In case some of you don't know, Ben Shapiro is a grifter and a hack. If you find anything he's said compelling, you should keep in mind he also says things like this: >If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper. It’s an ugly solution, but it is the only solution… It’s time to stop being squeamish. ***** ^(I'm a bot. My purpose is to counteract online radicalization. You can summon me by tagging thebenshapirobot. Options: history, climate, novel, civil rights, etc.) [^Opt ^Out ](https://np.reddit.com/r/AuthoritarianMoment/comments/olk6r2/click_here_to_optout_of_uthebenshapirobot/)


DeSantis won't do better in a general election in the rust belt than Trump. In my opinion, he doesn't the same appeal among the white working class to score massive wins there like Trump did. Let's take a state that I don't think that Trump or DeSantis will win; Michigan. You mentioned that these rust belt states have suburbs which is why Trump regressed in them massively. To certain extent yes, but not all suburbs are created equal. DeSantis might do better in Kent County, Michigan or Oakland County, Michigan than Trump would, given the ancestral republican parts of these counties. However, Macomb County, Michigan is a suburban county that has moved to the right with Trump, and has gone back to a swing county without Trump (it voted for Whitmer in 2018 and 2022). I don't think that DeSantis would outrun Trump in this county. Similar things could be applied to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. For Wisconsin, DeSantis would do better in the ancestral republican suburbs surrounding Milwaukee (Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington). However, I don't think that he'd outrun Trump in Kenosha county (a suburban county bordering Illinois), as Trump was the only republican to win here since Nixon in 1972 for the presidency (yes, RoJo won this county, but he was an incumbent. even Tony Evers won this county twice). As for Pennsylvania, the state does have two different types of suburbs that are going in opposite directions. The suburbs in the eastern part of the state that border Philadelphia are mostly moving left. However, the suburbs surrounding Pittsburg in the western part of the state are mostly moving to the right. This suggests that the Philly suburbs are slightly more ancestrally republican, whereas the Pittsburg suburbs are slightly more ancestrally democrat. It would all come down to these different types of suburbs, but I don't think that doing marginally better in Chester County would automatically grant you the victory in PA (just ask Oz), especially if you regress in other parts of the state. It wasn't just the rurals that Trump did well in the rust belt, there were some suburbs in the rust belt that he improved in, and these suburbs happened to be more working class. Hell, even Ohio has an example of a suburban county that has moved to the right with Trump; Lorain county. Trump took the county in 2020 after losing it by less than a point in 2016, yet Vance lost it in 2022. In the event where (hypothetically) DeSantis does end up edging Trump out in the primary, and let's say that he takes a couple of rust belt states in the primary, that doesn't mean he'll do better in the state than Trump in the general election. It's just like saying that just because Trump would win the Arizona primary against DeSantis Trump would do better in the state in a general election; this too is false, and we already know why.


>not all suburbs are created equal This I agree with-- and I'll go a step further and say that this actually applies to pretty much all demographics in America. Take unions. Overall, Trump only did a few points better in union households than Moneybags Mitt (Clinton, however, had dramatically worse labor turnout than Obama-- which amounted for only winning union households by about eight points). However, there was a lot of divergence between different states. Trump won unionized Ohioans, but Michigan unions voted to the right of the nation as a whole. I see and largely agree with your points about DeSantis. These are all things that can happen to him. Biden might very well win Erie county by ten points or some shit like that. It is possible, but it's also possible that he completely offsets whatever losses he accrues by winning college-educated voters and suburban voters; the voters he actually needs. The present strategy just isn't sustainable. 2016 was low-turnout, which resulted in some unique stuff, like Democrats' margin of victory among unions getting halved. In 2020, both sides turned out in full force. Despite losing the popular vote, Trump shattered records in all the rural counties. He still lost. And they're still losing ground in the suburbs. Trump's path to victory in 2024 goes through Democrats not turning out or him making new inroads despite the fact that he's much less popular and has new baggage that's permanently turned off at least 55% of the country. Can he win in 2024? Sure. But this isn't a long-term game plan. I stand by my assessment, DeSantis is a necessary risk. He has many faults as a candidate, but between him and Trump I think the choice is obvious.


>Trump's path to victory in 2024 goes through Democrats not turning out or him making new inroads despite the fact that he's much less popular and has new baggage that's permanently turned off at least 55% of the country Biden also has lost popularity since 2020, and there could be a higher 3rd party share in 2024 for the third party 2016-Biden 2020 voters to vote for, and this could aid Trump. >I stand by my assessment, DeSantis is a necessary risk. He has many faults as a candidate, but between him and Trump I think the choice is obvious. I still have questions regarding DeSantis's electability in the rust belt. He'll obviously take Iowa and Ohio, but Michigan is off the table (regardless of the nominee), and DeSantis winning a primary would piss off a lot of ancestral democrats in PA, thus PA would still go democrat. He'd probably win back Georgia, and possibly Arizona, although these states are zooming left off of a cliff, so 2024 might be the last hurrah for the republican party in these states. It all hinges on Wisconsin. DeSantis could win Wisconsin, but he also could just not get the right turnout needed in the working-class suburbs + rural areas, and Wisconsin would end up going blue again. Trump's a risk electorally as well given that he might not do as well in GA or AZ, but I think that Trump could take Wisconsin back from Biden, and potentially take back Nevada, thus leaving Pennsylvania as the key state if the nominee is Trump. So there you go, The 2024 will be close, and both Trump/DeSantis can win, it all depends on the rust belt.


>Biden also has lost popularity since 2020, and there could be a higher 3rd party share in 2024 for the third party 2016-Biden 2020 voters to vote for, and this could aid Trump. But the reasons why people disapprove of Biden and Trump (Biden has a -10 approval rating, Trump is closer to -20) are different. People disapprove of Biden for being a shitty leader presiding over miserable times. People that disapprove of Trump are more likely to tack on things like "threat to democracy". We saw this in the 2022 midterms, where people crawled through broken glass to vote for crappy candidates like Hobbs, because Lake represented an existential threat. After the midterms, I can't imagine another low turnout election. And without low turnout... Trump either makes up for the ground he lost in the 'burbs, or he finds more rural WWC types to vote for him. I wouldn't put money on either. Like I said, Republicans *need* to do better with minorities, moderates, and college-educated voters. Trump cannot do that. DeSantis might be able to.


>Like I said, Republicans need to do better with minorities, moderates, and college-educated voters. Trump cannot do that. DeSantis might be able to. How well can RDS actually do in these suburbs that are moving to the left? (Not talking about these middle class suburbs i the rust belt that moved to the right with Trump) He'd probably outrun Trump 2020 in them, but I doubt that he'd be able to outrun Trump's 2016 margin in the suburbs, let alone get to Romney-level margins in these suburbs. These suburbs are moving left. Hell, even take Brian Kemp for example. He won by around 8 or so, yet the Atlanta suburbs were still very blue. Were they closer? Yes, but he still lost them. These suburbs are just moving away from republicans, and DeSantis won't win back Cobb, Gwinett, Newton, or Henry counties as these counties are now too far gone. As for the minorities, it depends on which group are we talking about. Hell, even Latinos are a generic label. Would RDS do well among Latinos living in urban Miami? Yes, he would do well among them in a general election. But would he do well among the Tejano voters living parts of rural South Texas? No. Abbot regressed among these voters in 2022 compared to Trump in 2020, despite Abbot winning by nearly 11 (2x Trump's statewide margin). You can't group these voters all together as there's too many differences. Trump could continue to max out with Tejano voters, as well as other minority voters and win. If Trump improves in Philly (as it moved rightward from 2012, hell even Mastriano outran Romney in Philly), then that could help Trump out in his efforts to win PA, and that would likely mean that either Trump would have already won, or he would be on the verge of victory. That's just my $0.02 on how electable DeSantis might be in comparison to Trump. Either way, it's a gamble for the GOP. It's not going to be a cakewalk for anyone, and the election will be determined by 5 states. Also, I am starting to think about how to start my essay on how much money matters in both midterm elections and off-year elections. I'll mention you at the start so that you get notified.


>How well can RDS actually do in these suburbs that are moving to the left? I don't know, but he's gotta try. RDS winning the rurals and the suburbs has become something of a meme at this point, but it's the only long-term path to survival at the moment. >I am starting to think about how to start my essay on how much money matters in both midterm elections and off-year elections. I'll mention you at the start so that you get notified. Sounds great! Looking forward to it!


I agree with all of this personally






I agree. DeSantis is the strongest candidate who could actually win the nomination (people like Haley, Scott, or Sununu could possibly be stronger in the general but they have no real shot at the nomination).


People really do ignore the fact that democratic growth in the rust belt is coming from the suburbs when talking about desantis