In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron DeSantis is lagging behind Donald Trump by a significant margin, according to recent polls. Trump holds a commanding 44-point lead over DeSantis in the RealClearPolitics polling average. This comes as a blow to DeSantis, who has consistently trailed behind Trump among Republican voters by around 45-50 points.
However, there has been some movement towards Republicans among Latino voters in Florida. While most Latinos nationally are Mexican American, Florida’s Hispanic community is predominantly made up of people of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and South American descent, who may have different political priorities. It is unclear whether this shift towards Republicans is due to DeSantis’s influence or other factors.
There is also the possibility that the higher support among Latino Republicans in 2022 was due to disparities in voter turnout. According to Florida Democratic data analyst Matthew Isbell, there were more registered Democrats than Republicans among Latino voters in Florida, but a smaller percentage of Hispanic Democrats actually voted compared to Hispanic Republicans. This meant that the actual electorate contained more Hispanic Republicans than Democrats, contributing to DeSantis’s success with Latino voters.
It is important to note that Hispanic voters are not a monolithic group, especially in South Florida, where political preferences can vary widely based on factors such as generation, country of origin, and length of time spent in the US. Historically, Cuban and Venezuelan voters in Florida have leaned Republican, and their further shift to the right in 2022, along with growing support from Colombians and even Puerto Ricans who have traditionally supported Democrats, helped DeSantis secure a majority of the Latino vote in Florida.
However, it is difficult to attribute the rightward shift of Hispanic voters solely to DeSantis. The Republican shift among Hispanic voters started before the 2022 campaign, with Biden receiving just 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in Florida in 2020. Trump’s appeal to Hispanic voters, particularly with his push to reopen the economy during the pandemic and targeted outreach to Florida’s diverse Hispanic communities, likely played a significant role in this shift. Additionally, the rightward swing among Latinos is a national phenomenon, not limited to Florida. Hispanic support for Democrats decreased from 71 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in both 2020 and 2022.
As DeSantis’s poll numbers continue to decline, his influence in Florida politics is also diminishing. Interviews with lobbyists, political consultants, and lawmakers reveal that there is a widespread expectation that DeSantis’s presidential candidacy will end in failure. This has led to a loss of support and a slow erosion of his once-powerful sway in Florida. Legislators and lobbyists are eagerly waiting for him to drop out of the race, signaling a lack of confidence in his ability to succeed.
Furthermore, DeSantis’s aggressive tactics and use of government power have alienated some within his own party. State Representative Daniel Perez cautioned against wielding the power of government like a hammer, as it can make people feel like nails. The state Republican Party even rescinded a loyalty pledge that would have required GOP primary candidates to endorse the eventual Republican presidential nominee, a move that directly contradicted DeSantis’s wishes and was made at the request of Trump supporters.
In addition to the political challenges DeSantis faces, there are also legal battles surrounding Florida’s voter registration laws. Lawsuits allege that the state’s voter registration form lacks eligibility requirements for those with criminal convictions, creating confusion and hindering voter registration activities. Barriers against groups staging voter registration drives have also been targeted, with fines imposed on former felons and non-U.S. citizens who register voters. These legal challenges further complicate the political landscape in Florida.
Overall, the political and legal challenges facing Ron DeSantis in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination have significantly weakened his influence in Florida. His struggles on the campaign trail, coupled with the erosion of support from within his own party, have led many to doubt his chances of success. As the race for the nomination continues, it remains to be seen how DeSantis will navigate these challenges and how it will impact his political future in Florida.
0. “Ron DeSantis probably didn’t turn Florida red” ABC News, 11 Sep. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/538/ron-desantis-turn-florida-red/story?id=103096560
1. “DeSantis’ influence nosedives in Florida – POLITICO” POLITICO, 22 Sep. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/09/22/desantis-florida-republicans-governor-elections-00117514
2. “Pretty Much Everyone Hates Ron DeSantis Now” Yahoo News, 22 Sep. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/pretty-much-everyone-hates-ron-174031988.html
3. “Ron DeSantis’s Grip on Florida Is Slipping: Report” Vanity Fair, 22 Sep. 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/09/ron-desantis-grip-florida-slipping-report
4. “Under DeSantis, FL has become the bellwether state for voter disenfranchisement” Colorado Newsline, 18 Sep. 2023, https://coloradonewsline.com/2023/09/18/desantis-fl-become-voter-disenfranchisement/