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Will DeSantis finally announce his candidacy or chicken out?

It is clear that Ron DeSantis has presidential ambitions for 2024. It has become harder and harder for him to evade or deny the question when asked. But the question remains the same for everyone. Will he take on the challenge and run or throw in the towel and wait for 2028? If DeSantis decides to run in 2024, he will have to face Donald Trump. And Donald Trump’s greatest strength lies in his confrontational approach in the face of adversity. For the moment, several polls show that he will be severely beaten by Trump in the Republican primaries.

For example, FiveThirtyEight launched a national polling average for the 2024 Republican presidential primary. The polls show that Former President Trump received 49.3% of the national vote and Governor DeSantis received 26.2%. Clearly, Ron DeSantis is well ahead of Nikki Haley and Former Vice President Mike Pence, who are at 4.3% and 5.8%, respectively. Another poll, however, suggests that Governor DeSantis would be the preferred 2024 Republican candidate against Joe Biden in key swing states. Indeed, a survey from GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies shows that DeSantis, who has not confirmed he is running for president but is expected to do so soon, would beat Biden in Arizona and Pennsylvania in a hypothetical 2024 face-off by 48 to 42% and 45% to 42% respectively. Why hasn’t DeSantis announced his candidacy if he is leading the polls with President Trump?

Ron DeSantis comes as the preferable choice and new face of the Republican Party for next year’s elections as an alternative to Donald Trump for certain Republicans, mainly the Republican Establishment. His track record as Florida’s Governor put him on the path of a prospective presidential run. During the 2022 midterm elections, Ron DeSantis held the largest victory among Republicans. Most of the Trump-backed candidates failed to get elected or re-elected. Yet, Governor DeSantis did not announce his candidacy. Many sources argue that it is his fear of Donald Trump that is holding him back from announcing his candidacy. Standing against Donald Trump will logically lead to a large portion of the Republican electorate standing up against him.

Since Trump’s indictment, support for maintaining his innocence and decrying a grand conspiracy from the Democratic elite against him, has grown substantially. Thus, all the media attention is currently on President Trump, which strengthens his lead within the Republican primaries and therefore makes other primary contenders less visible. What DeSantis fears isn’t the fact that he will be less visible than President Trump if he runs. On the contrary, his candidacy will make the Republican primaries very “spicy.” Because even though Trump has the lead over him, this lead isn’t a complete full-scale landslide. What DeSantis perhaps fears is that if he decided to run is that his image of the perfect socially conservative, family-oriented, and traditionalist politician, may be destroyed once he runs against Trump. He is right to fear that because Trump will not hold back. He will indeed utterly destroy DeSantis' credibility. That’s the game of electoral politics.

The essence of electoral politics is momentum. Ron DeSantis is currently at the peak of his political career. He has reached national prominence and now holds the status of “Trump’s challenger.” Some Republicans have advised him to run in 2028. If he chooses to run in 2028 instead of 2024, he will never reach again the level of prominence he is currently experiencing today. He will be forgotten at the national level. Sure, for Floridians, he will be remembered as one of the greatest governors the State of Florida has ever had, but for Americans, he was just another “good governor,” and that’s it. Some may even say that he was a political coward. And he would have perhaps missed the greatest opportunity of his political career to become President of the United States. If he chooses, however, to take his chance and run in 2024, the probability that he loses against President Trump is very high, but it will create a boulevard for him to be the next and incontestable logical choice for Republicans in 2028 because he would have established his marks and presence on national politics forever. As Charlie Kirk said on the PBD Podcast a couple of weeks ago, “It is better to run and lose than to not run and be forgotten.” And for a politician, there is nothing worse than being forgotten.


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