2024 GOP primary2024 presidential electionDonald TrumpFeaturedJoe BidenNikki HaleyRon DeSantis

Tracking The Zombie Primary, Now Minus Ron DeSantis – HotAir

Even though exactly one state has weighed in officially on whom the Republican nominee should be for the 2024 cycle, by Tuesday in New Hampshire, it will be all over but the shouting.

Roughly one out of seven registered Iowa Republicans caucused Monday last, and that’s due to a lot of factors. The weather outside was frightful, to borrow a phrase. Iowans are hearty people, but you get below zero with wind chill for a race that isn’t within 30 points, and most people there hardly saw the point in bothering to put on fifteen layers of clothing.

In the Granite State, one poll by the American Research Group shows the race within two points – Donald Trump over Nikki Haley, 46-44%. Ron DeSantis is in a distant third at 6%. This certainly doesn’t comport with the rest of the recent polling showing at least an 11-point lead, and maybe as much as a 19-point margin for the former President.

The one thing that’s certain about all of this is that with a solid plurality of the GOP base, and rapidly approaching a majority, the possibility of stopping Donald Trump from getting the nomination seems about as likely as trying to stop an oncoming freight train by standing on the side of the tracks and sticking out your thumb.

There is, however, a buzzard-like curiosity on how the primary officially closes out, meaning when the other remaining candidates back out, whether they endorse Trump or not, and what happens next.

Nikki Haley has put all her eggs, relatively speaking, into New Hampshire. She of course is holding onto the idea that she can compete in her home state of South Carolina, but she doesn’t have the endorsement of the current governor, Henry McMaster, both of the state’s senators have also now endorsed Donald Trump, and she’s down in a composite of polling in the Palmetto State by around 30. There’s literally nowhere for her to go after that point, and some of her big money donors are saying publicly they’re not going to continue to throw money down an empty hole if she loses New Hampshire and it’s not close.

Ron DeSantis, who appeared last week on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, at first dodged on whether he was going to be funded and was staying in through the race until Super Tuesday. When Hewitt pressed him on whether he was staying in or not, DeSantis answered more directly.

HH: Are you staying in through all of March’s races? Is there any way Ron DeSantis drops out before the end of March?

RD: Look, my goal is to, is to win the nomination. If we’d won Iowa, we would have been in a great spot. You know, coming in second gives us the ticket to continue, but I told me people this from the very beginning. I don’t want to be V.P. I don’t want to be in the cabinet. I don’t want a T.V. show. I’m in it to win it, and at some point, you know, if that’s not working out for you, like I recognize that this isn’t a vanity thing for me. But I do believe that we have an opportunity in November to do very, very well. I also think that there’s pitfalls by choosing the course that the party faithful chose in Iowa. And I don’t think any of that’s changed. I don’t think that there are people necessarily talking about it. There’s a lot of sense on the Republican side that somehow, you know, Biden will win, anyone could win like a Regan landslide against Biden. And they haven’t even started. The Dems haven’t even started. They’re going to drop billions of dollars. And what they want to run on is they want to run on all the stuff surrounding Donald Trump, January 6th, all the legal issues. That’s what they want to run on. And the question is, is that going to be effective with those independent voters that we need to win? I can tell you in Florida, we showed how to win all of those people, with strong leadership.

HH: But Governor, before we go to the break, are you in through the end of March? Do you have the money and the staff and the ability to compete through the end of March?

RD: Oh, yes on that. 100%. We can do that.

Between Thursday and Sunday, the unraveling of the DeSantis campaign continued. His scheduled appearance on CNN’s Sunday show, State of the Union, was canceled. So was his scheduled appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. Now I, for one, never got the DeSantis media strategy in the first place. Prospective conservative voters don’t watch liberal Sunday shows. They listen to conservative talk radio and watch conservative outlets on Fox, Newsmax, and other places. He admitted to Hugh on Thursday that he didn’t do his media strategy right at first, and in retrospect, it cost him. He said he should have done more conservative media appearances, but that at the end of the day, the galvanizing effect all the nonsense indictments of Donald Trump had on the primary voters was ultimately too much to overcome in this cycle.

There was a flurry of reportage Sunday on when, not if, DeSantis would bow out. But by mid-afternoon, DeSantis made the calculation that a distant third-place finish in New Hampshire wasn’t the best use of time and resources and suspended his campaign. He also recognizes the obvious, which is even a flawed Donald Trump is far superior to Joe Biden.

The endorsement of Trump will be seized on by the Never Trump crowd, but it’s the pragmatic conclusion if you look at the performance of Joe Biden for three years with any level of objectivity.

Does this change the calculus for Nikki Haley? Not really. If she gets hammered in New Hampshire as expected and loses by a larger margin in her home state, Super Tuesday isn’t going to be very super. It’ll be more of a formality than anything else.

DeSantis will go back to being America’s finest governor for a few more years, and then probably will regroup for a 2028 run. I’m sure he’ll be joined by lots of other people, and we’ll start the merry-go-round again. In the meantime, the focus right now must be on one thing, and one thing only. How will Donald Trump and the Republican Party turn that primary plurality that’s closing in on a majority of their base into a plurality of general election voters? Right now, that’s very much in doubt. The Real Clear Politics daily tracker of Biden V. Trump shows the former president two points over the current president. Two points. Safely within the margin of error, absolutely within the margin of cheat.

Here’s Politico’s very good Congressional reporter, Olivia Beavers.

Now that Trump is poised to be the nominee, a loss in November right now is likely, but not certain. Virtually any other Republican nominee would have beaten the current president outside the margin of error. Trump still might do it, but it’s going to be a much tougher lift with suburban moms, independents, and seniors. And if Trump’s negatives become the Democrats’ turnout engine as it did in 2020, the collateral damage in the House, the Senate, governorships, and state legislative seats are too dire to contemplate.

I’m all for the whole unity thing and looking forward to addressing the real problems this country needs to tackle. I sure hope Team Trump adopts the same strategy. Republicans have to start winning elections again. The republic can and has withstood lots of bad actors in office. I’m not sure what it’ll look like with four more years of concentrated Marxism running around Washington making policy.


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