DeSantis is close to proving there is an alternative to Trump. But is he the alternative?

George Evans-Jones
3 min readMar 31, 2023

Increasingly, DeSantis appears to be the stand-alone competitor to Trump in the upcoming Republican primary. As early as January 2022, I wrote about the potential Trump vs DeSantis stand-off. Since then, Trump’s polling has fallen slightly, while his negatives have fallen more aggressively, and DeSantis’ has increased slightly, and he remains relatively favourable. The latest Morning Consult polling has Trump 52%, DeSantis 26%, so there is still clear ground between the two. And even clearer ground between those two and the rest of the pack.

This, therefore, has been the story for coming up to a year and a half now. Are we expected to believe it’ll remain that way for another year and a half? It is, of course, possible. Trump is the expert at keeping himself in the lime-light, and DeSantis shows no obvious signs of falling off either— despite some personal oddities.

But let’s remember, we are just under a year before the first primaries and caucuses, and that means political winds will change. I’ve already written about some of DeSantis’ weaknesses. Namely, his personal lack of authenticity, the fact his political experience has come from a slightly bizarre state, Florida — although he is desperately trying to convince us he had a “midwest cultural upbringing”, and thirdly (at this stage), the expectations on his candidacy are growing to an uncomfortably high position which is precisely the opposite position to where Trump was in 2014/15. But looking further ahead, there is a historical precedent DeSantis will need to be aware of.

Namely, that he could be peaking too early. Exposing his hand only for his opponents to learn from his mistakes leaving them ample time to out-maneuver him. Early front-runners within both parties are nothing new. In 2007, Clinton and Edwards were popular before anyone outside of Illinois had heard of Barack Obama. At the same time, a certain Mitt Romney was making waves in the GOP before McCain secured the nomination. Four years later, before Romney himself had his turn, Rick Santorum was winning Iowa. Ron Paul came second and Jon Huntsman (who?) came third in New Hampshire. Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush are all more contemporary examples.

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George Evans-Jones

Writing mostly on US politics from across the pond. Occasionally detour into sports/sport performance, and UK politics/culture.