DeSantis Is On The Ropes, But Trump Can Knock Him Out

By Dick Morris on March 3, 2023

The February 21, 2023 poll from McLaughlin and Associates shows that DeSantis is on the ropes.

He has gone from trailing Trump in a two-way Republican primary by 11 points (52-41) in January to an 18-point deficit in February. The polls he conducted in December, January, and February all showed Trump beating Biden by 4-5 points.

But Mclaughlin’s poll has worse news for the Florida governor.

It indicates that Trump can win even more of the Republican primary vote, clearly eliminating any chance that DeSantis can win or even likely run.

McLaughlin’s poll showed Trump decisively defeating fifteen possible primary opponents with 42% of the vote to DeSantis’ 25%. But the poll shows his vote share can go even higher.

34% of primary voters said that they wanted Trump to run again and that they would support him if he did. But then this group did not actually vote for Trump. They backed others among the fifteen possible candidates or were undecided. (Let’s call them “not now” voters)

Mclaughlin asked the not now voters why they were not voting for Trump.

The conventional wisdom that sustains DeSantis’ hopes, is that these voters are hardened anti-Trumpers who find him divisive, acerbic and worry that he can’t win.

But McLaughlin’s poll indicates that they are not anti-Trump voters.

The major reason the “not nowers” cite for not backing the former president right now is that they are window shopping and want to learn more about the other candidates (49%) or that they say Trump talks too much about the last election rather than focusing on the next one (46%).

Both reasons for not backing Trump can be reversed. The more Trump is positive in his campaign and speaks about the future, the more likely these voters are to come around to him.

Moreover, the demographics of the “not now” voters indicate that they won’t be hard to convert to Trump.

First, they are well educated and make higher incomes. 42% of the “not nowers” are four-year college graduates and 40% earn $150,000 a year.

The more Trump continues to speak out for innovative, conservative proposals, the more he will attract their attention and support.

Second, the “not nowers” are older. DeSantis currently leads Trump among over 65 voters. But DeSantis’ past support for cutting Social Security and Medicare should reverse that trend in a hurry.

So, Trump has a huge 18-point lead over DeSantis in a two way race. But he also should be able to move his margin even higher, making it improbable that DeSantis would ruin his future by running now.

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