In the world of politics, it is no secret that the support of evangelical voters can make or break a candidate’s chances. With their strong religious beliefs and conservative values, evangelicals have traditionally aligned themselves with Republican candidates who champion their causes. However, in recent years, there has been a noticeable split among evangelical voters, with some leaning towards former President Donald Trump and others gravitating towards other conservative figures. One such figure who seems to be gaining traction among evangelicals is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
According to a Fox News poll in May, DeSantis was trailing far behind Trump among GOP primary voters nationally who identified as born-again or evangelical Christians. However, in Iowa, a key state for evangelical voters, DeSantis seems to be resonating with some leaders in the community. Mike Augsburger, lead pastor of Soteria in Des Moines, stated that in his circles, people are leaning more towards DeSantis because he appears to be more authentically conservative.
One of the reasons why DeSantis may be appealing to evangelicals is his ability to distance himself from some of the moral shortcomings associated with Trump. While Trump may have been successful in capturing the evangelical vote in 2016, many white evangelicals who supported him then have since become disillusioned with his behavior. DeSantis, a Catholic, does not have the same baggage as Trump, which could make him more appealing to these voters.
Additionally, DeSantis has taken advantage of the anti-abortion momentum created by Trump’s presidency. He successfully passed a six-week abortion ban in Florida, a move that has endeared him to many pro-life evangelicals. Although DeSantis rarely touts this achievement outside of certain circles, it has not gone unnoticed by those who prioritize the issue of abortion.
DeSantis’s appeal among evangelicals will be put to the test at a convention center in Des Moines, where he will be interviewed by Tucker Carlson, a well-known TV personality who has been critical of Trump in the past. This interview will take place in front of an audience of like-minded conservatives who are deeply invested in their role as the first-in-the-nation voters. While DeSantis may have an audience that is more receptive to his argument of electability, his refusal to acknowledge Trump’s loss in the 2020 election weakens his position.
Despite this challenge, DeSantis has emerged as a frontrunner in Iowa in the absence of Trump, who leads the polls by double digits but chose to skip the assembly. With his conservative policies and appeal to evangelical voters, DeSantis is positioning himself as a viable alternative to Trump in the eyes of some evangelicals.
In the ever-changing landscape of American politics, it is clear that evangelical voters are a crucial demographic for any candidate seeking the Republican nomination. As the 2024 election cycle begins to heat up, it will be interesting to see how candidates like DeSantis navigate this complex and divided electorate.
0. “Desperate DeSantis Zeroes In On Evangelicals With Tucker Carlson’s Help” TPM, 13 Jul. 2023, https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/where-things-stand-desperate-desantis-zeroes-in-on-evangelicals-with-tucker-carlsons-help
1. “DeSantis is hoping Iowa evangelicals can make his campaign born again” POLITICO, 13 Jul. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/07/13/desantis-iowa-evangelicals-00105994