Trump’s Attacks on DeSantis Could Hand Florida to Democrats in 2024 – Opinion

Most nationally-known polls currently show former President Trump with a wide lead over Florida Gov. Ron Desantis in the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary, but Trump’s short-term strategy for success against DeSantis could prove to be disastrous against President Joe Biden in Nov. 2024. Despite a large lead in GOP Primary polls, Trump continues to criticize DeSantis with more frequency and vitriol than any other Republicans in the field.

General elections are a zero sum game, but no candidate ever corrals 100% of active registered their respective party’s voters and earns their support several months later in the general election. For a great example, Trump need look no further than the bitter rivalry that developed in the 2016 Democratic Party’s Presidential Primary. Ironically, Hillary Clinton serves as the perfect warning for Trump supporters. In 2016, Bernie Sanders supporters vocalized their displeasure with Hillary’s tactics, and they vowed to withhold their vote from Hillary in the General Election. A post-election analysis of data gathered from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study found that many of those vocal critics of Clinton kept their word, and found that 12 percent of respondents who voted for Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries didn’t support Clinton in the 2016 General Election. Ultimately, that drop in support proved to be enough of a dropoff to undermine Clinton and propel Trump to one of the most shocking upsets in political history.

In 2020, Trump defeated Biden in Florida by 3.3%, taking just over half of the vote at 51.2%, to Biden’s 47.9%. It may be easy for Trump supporters to forget the extent that DeSantis’ expanded top of the ticket support across Florida, but when DeSantis was re-elected, he not only repeated victories in previous storngholds, he conquered new territory was that shocked pundits and voters alike, including former Democratic Party Strongholds such as Hillsborough County (Tampa), Duval County (Jacksonville), and Miami-Dade County, which hadn’t been won by a Republican Presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush crushed Mike Dukakis in 1988’s Presidential Election.

A 3.3% margin of victory in 2020 could easily be erased if enough voters decide to sit out or vote third party in 2024 due to Trump’s tactics against their preferred candidate in DeSantis. Undoubtedly, Democrats are hoping that the insults and attacks between Trump and DeSantis continue for as long as possible in the 2024 Republican Primary.

Matt O'Hern
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