‘He Has a Punchable Face’ - Why DeSantis Lost, According to the Atlantic

Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gov. Ron DeSantis started off as a strong contender for the Republican nomination. But according to the Atlantic, he never had a shot.

The Atlantic recently published a detailed piece “How Donald Trump Became Unbeatable: How did we get here again?” on how the candidates, including DeSantis, shot themselves in the foot by sticking by the former president time and time again.

Sarah Longwell for the Atlantic writes: “By the time DeSantis dropped out, skepticism had turned to contempt among the Republican voters I spoke with. Sean, a two-time Trump voter from New Hampshire, put it succinctly last month: ‘He has a punchable face, and I just don’t like him.’”

Longwell argues that if DeSantis had focused his efforts on consolidating the maybe-Trump and anti-Trump votes he may have done better.

“This time last year, DeSantis had a real shot at consolidating the move-on-from-Trump faction of the GOP while making inroads with the maybe-Trumpers — each of which constitutes about a third of the party,” Longwell writes. “Instead, he tried to wrestle the former president for his always-Trump base, a doomed effort. He couldn’t get traction with the always-Trumpers and he alienated the move-on-from-Trumpers. It was a hopeless strategy for a flawed candidate.”

Longwell, who talks with Republican-primary voters in focus groups every week, has had her pulse on the Republican electorate.

“Most Republican leaders have profoundly misread their base in this moment,” she writes. “The other candidates hoped to be able to defeat Trump even as they accommodated his behavior and made excuses for his criminality. They even said they would support his reelection. By doing so, they established a permission structure for Republican voters to return to Trump, all but ensuring his rise.”

Longwell goes on to say about DeSantis: “Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy did their best to imitate Trump, presenting themselves as younger and more competent stewards of the same MAGA agenda. None of them offered a viable alternative to Trump; instead, they spent their resources trying not to anger his supporters.”

But ultimately she makes the case that none of the candidates really had a shot against Trump, mostly because the party itself has shifted, and the candidates did not take notice. This is not the party of Ronald Reagan or Lincoln — it’s the party of Trump.

“Republican elites don’t understand their voters. They spent eight years making excuses for Trump and supporting him at every turn, sending the clear signal that this is his party,” Longwell concludes. “They spent nearly a decade saying that he was a persecuted martyr — and the greatest president in history. It’s frightening, but not surprising, that their voters think he’s the only man for the job.”


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