US Presidential Election: Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis: How Republicans are happily shrinking their electoral chances

Almost exactly a year and a half before the next US presidential election, the conservative Republicans are in the process of maneuvering themselves into an impasse.

US Presidential Election: Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis: How Republicans are happily shrinking their electoral chances

Almost exactly a year and a half before the next US presidential election, the conservative Republicans are in the process of maneuvering themselves into an impasse. An indication of this could now be observed in the capital Washington, where Florida's governor and hopeful Ron DeSantis had invited to a reception. Nine members of parliament stood by him politely – but only at this event. Because just three of them have so far openly committed themselves to DeSantis, the others are still considering or toying with the idea of ​​supporting Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.

For the ambitious head of government from Florida, the reluctance of his party friends is unpleasant. The appointment with colleagues from the US Congress was actually intended as a warm-up exercise for his long-awaited entry into the race for the presidency. Many Republicans consider DeSantis a natural candidate for the White House. Politically, like Donald Trump, he is far to the right, but unlike the ex-president, he has political skills, and even more, can show electoral success. In the last vote in early November, he was confirmed as governor of Florida with a landslide victory.

That doesn't go unnoticed outside of the Sunshine State either. "Make America Florida" is DeSanti's election slogan, based on Trump's famous battle cry "Make America Great Again". His eponymous merchandise shop with t-shirts, caps and stickers is running like clockwork, and the polls speak for him. However, not all of them, which in turn could thwart his chance of a nomination. Ironically, the 44-year-old seems to have better chances nationwide than in his own party.

DeSanti's problem is the American grassroots democracy: In the United States, no party conventions or executive committees choose the respective candidates, only the party members. State by state, they vote for their favorites in the primaries. These "primaries" drag on for months and, unsurprisingly, stage pigs, people's tribunes and populists often have good chances in this long-term election campaign. People like Donald Trump. And although the primaries don't start until February, it almost seems as if the Republicans have already committed themselves to him as the next presidential candidate.

Trump's intra-party approval curve has been pointing upwards again for two weeks: On average, 52 percent of conservatives currently support him in the polls, at the end of March it was ten percentage points less. And his success is apparently at the expense of DeSantis: just 23.6 percent currently prefer the governor from Florida as a candidate, at the beginning of February it was still around a third. The Republicans, who have slid sharply to the right, are apparently too small for Trump and DeSantis.

The rest of the field of applicants, including ex-governor Nikki Haley and ex-vice president Mike Pence, are lagging behind in the single-digit percentage range. The internal preliminary decision will probably result in a duel, with a clear advantage for the former head of state. DeSantis would probably be the better choice, at least the one with the better chance of success. According to current polls, both are already on par across the country – at least if the opponent were called Joe Biden, which it currently looks like.

Should the duel between Biden and Trump occur again in 18 months, the previous president would be only slightly ahead of the incumbent by 1.7 percentage points. Ron DeSantis would have the same, slim lead over Biden. Her advantage would be clearer if the opponent were called Kamala Harris, the hapless US Vice President. But a difference of less than two percentage points is within the margin of error of polls, so these numbers don't tell very much. Except that outside of his party, the governor is apparently on an equal footing with Trump, the long-term campaigner.

But other factors suggest DeSantis may be a better choice for Republicans. That would be his age. Compared to Joe Biden, who will celebrate his 82nd birthday shortly after the election, and Donald Trump, who will then be 78, the 44-year-old DeSantis looks almost like a teenager. In addition, his reputation among the not small constituency of independents, i.e. the non-partisan Americans, is slowly but steadily increasing. In addition, it is not yet foreseeable in which direction the lawsuits and investigations against Donald Trump will develop and what the consequences will be. The only thing that is certain so far is that since Donald Trump entered the political arena eight years ago, he has consistently been one of the most conspicuous and unpopular top US politicians. Nothing changed about that.

Quellen: DPA, AFP, "Politico", "Washington Examiner", FiveThirtyEight, "Washington Post", YouGov America, NBC, RealClearPolitics

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