Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.
In six short months from November to May, Mr. DeSantis’s 2024 run has faltered before it has even begun.
Allies have abandoned him. Tales of his icy interpersonal touch have spread. Donors have groused. And a legislative session in Tallahassee designed to burnish his conservative credentials has instead coincided with a drop in the polls.
His decision not to begin any formal campaign until after the Florida legislative session — allowing him to cast himself as a conservative fighter who not only won but actually delivered results — instead opened a window of opportunity for Mr. Trump. The former president filled the void with personal attacks and a heavy rotation of negative advertising from his super PAC. Combined with Mr. DeSantis’s cocooning himself in the right-wing media and the Trump team’s success in outflanking him on several fronts, the governor has lost control of his own national narrative.
Now, as Mr. DeSantis’s Tallahassee-based operation pivots to formally entering the race in the coming weeks, Mr. DeSantis and his allies are retooling for a more aggressive new phase. His staunchest supporters privately acknowledge that Mr. DeSantis needs to recalibrate a political outreach and media strategy that has allowed Mr. Trump to define the race.
...A book tour that was supposed to have introduced him nationally was marked by missteps that deepened concerns about his readiness for the biggest stage. He took positions on two pressing domestic and international issues — abortion and the war in Ukraine — that generated second-guessing and backlash among some allies and would-be benefactors. And the moves he has made to appeal to the hard right — escalating his feud with Disney, signing a strict six-week abortion ban — have unnerved donors who are worried about the general election.
“I was in the DeSantis camp,” said Andrew Sabin, a metals magnate who gave the Florida governor $50,000 last year. “But he started opening his mouth, and a lot of big donors said his views aren’t tolerable.” He specifically cited abortion and Ukraine.