Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

Post-midterms, Ron DeSantis positioned as GOP's 2024 "front-runner"

Banners for former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are pictured at a conservative rally.

A Trump booth reflects the current political thought of conservative America. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis' dominant re-election win on Tuesday, including flipping long-blue Miami-Dade County, solidified his status as a 2024 presidential contender.

  • Conservative media, from the New York Post to Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, responded yesterday with headlines touting him as the future — or "DeFuture" — of the Republican Party.

Why it matters: Florida went ruby red Tuesday, but nationwide, Republicans fell short of expectations in the midterm elections.

  • Former President Trump, who's expected to announce a presidential bid at a planned Mar-a-Lago rally next week, received part of the blame for the promised GOP wave not materializing.
  • Many of Trump's handpicked Republican candidates lost or struggled in winnable races, Axios' Jonathan Swan, Josh Kraushaar and Alayna Treene report.

What they're saying: Kathryn DePalo-Gould, a political science professor at Florida International University, told Axios that she now considers DeSantis "the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2024."

  • "DeSantis had the playbook for how Republicans can win and win big," she wrote in a text message.

Sean Foreman, a political science professor at Barry University, called the midterms a "tale of two elections" — with Republicans dominating in Florida but underperforming nationwide.

  • Foreman credits that to DeSantis' being a popular incumbent with historic fundraising totals and a strong legislative track record.
  • "He can shine in the spotlight for several weeks now and gloat about this big win, and he'll continue to receive the presidential attention," Foreman told Axios in an interview.

The intrigue: Trump has taken aim at DeSantis in recent days, threatening to reveal unflattering information about him if he ran against him and labeling him "Ron DeSanctimonious" at a rally over the weekend.

What to watch: Foreman said he doesn’t believe DeSantis will be in a hurry to run for president.

  • DeSantis, who's 44, just won another four-year term and can wait until 2028 to run, Foreman said.
  • He added that DeSantis has "enormous political capital" in Florida, which has supermajorities in the state Legislature and a conservative Supreme Court. If he runs for president, there's a risk he loses to Trump.
  • "People want to start playing up the rift between Trump and DeSantis, but every Trump supporter is a DeSantis voter," Foreman said.
Data: AP, New York Times; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios Visuals

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