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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

DeSantis Launches, Badly

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.

Ron DeSantis officially launched his campaign with an odd Twitter Spaces event with Elon Musk.  Technical difficulties delayed the start for 26 minutes while users could hear hold music, buzzing, and unidentified crosstalk. From Politico Playbook:

Team DeSantis immediately tried to spin it as evidence that the governor’s immense popularity “broke the internet,” to paraphrase one campaign release. That’s not true, of course: The internet was just fine; the launch is what had problems. And if his popularity is so vast, it seems odd that after the Twitter Spaces restarted, half of the audience from the first attempt never returned.

Let’s be clear: This was a bad night for DeSantis.

It was supposed to be a tabula-rasa moment — a chance to reset the narrative around his campaign, which has seen its poll numbers drop and Trump’s lead widen. It was a moment to project strength and competence and give his donors and supporters a reason to get excited again.

Instead, a different narrative is taking hold …

POLITICO: “The risk for DeSantis is the prospect of the botched rollout forming a narrative and cutting against the very argument he is making to Republican primary voters — that he is a competent alternative to the chaotic presidency of former President Donald Trump. The governor has been portraying himself in public speeches and private donor meetings as a controlled, low-drama politician who embraces many of Trump’s policy positions without the trademark unpredictability. But on Wednesday, DeSantis — who fiercely values control — was the picture of disorder.”

National Review: “In theory, one advantage of an unconventional announcement in a Twitter Spaces conversation is its informality — it’s more like a live, interactive podcast. Because one of the knocks on DeSantis is that he’s too rehearsed and calculating, it could have offered DeSantis the opportunity to show his lighter side and in an unscripted environment — to joke and banter with the other participants. Instead, when called on at first, he launched into a standard stump speech.


As politicians often like to remind us reporters: Twitter isn’t real life. That’s true: It’s not where the GOP primary voters are. Hell, it’s not where the vast majority of Americans are. And we cannot imagine that anyone’s vote will ultimately be decided on the basis of technical difficulties in a Twitter Spaces event.

BUT: Twitter is where journalists and other political obsessives spend an inordinate amount of time. And as such, it has an outsize impact on which narratives take hold in national media. Which is why the DeSantis gambit was so risky: If everything had gone off without a hitch, you’d be reading stories this morning about what a forward-looking campaign he’s running — one that is experimenting with new ways to reach voters, with an innovative approach befitting a 44-year-old presidential candidate.