— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 24, 2023
Important points by Josh Marshall, here, concerning Dead Bounce Ron and his most enthusiastic supporters:
As we continue to watch the ignominious collapse of Ron DeSantis’s campaign (predicted many months ago by yours truly but not like I’m focusing on that or anything), there’s a curious bit of backstory I’m reminded of. But before we get to that I wanted to flag this weekend New York Times article. It’s so passively devastating I think DeSantis’s estate might have a plausible wrongful death claim against the authors…
My takeaway…: The campaign appears to be trapped in a sort of people-hating, private-jet-taking death loop. We learn from the article that Ron and wife Casey really, really like flying on private jets, which of course cost a ton of money. I confess that I’m not a huge fan of flying. But if I were, a private jet would probably be pretty cool. But it’s also not hard to see their extreme attachment to private jets as part of or at least a symbol of not liking being around regular people. Maybe not liking being around anybody at all. Some people just want the privacy to unwind with a handful of pudding…
One of the ways the campaign has burned through a ton of money is the travel on private jets. The campaign also remains highly dependent on high-end donors rather than small donors. Unlike with online small donors, you’ve got to attend fundraisers in person to collect those checks. Which means a lot more travel. On private jets. Which means a lot more spending.
It all comes back to the fact that normal people (who don’t max out their federal limits with a single check) aren’t giving the campaign enough money. And maybe that’s not a huge surprise because the DeSantises don’t like being around those people, which is why they’re addicted to private jets. Thus we get back to the root of the problem…
When Ron was still riding high I spoke to some Republican insiders and others who talk to the insiders who won’t talk to me. The thing that came through most consistently was that these folks were excited about DeSantis because he was the neo-Jebbite candidate in the race. A Jebbite candidate clothed in a MAGA suit to succeed in the post-Trump era, to be sure, but still a Jebbite candidate. I imagine that this would seem odd to a lot of people since whatever ones feelings about Jeb Bush I don’t think most people ever thought of him as scary or evil. The fact that DeSantis was, like Bush, a Governor of Florida just cemented the equation. It also gave him a footing with many of the same Florida high-roller donors, or at least same kind of Florida high roller donors…
Of course, DeSantis’s billionaire backers were happy to go along with whatever kind of campaign he was going to run – as long as he was successful. But he wasn’t. And that’s the key to the campaign’s still-unfolding free-fall. There was never a real DeSantis constituency, aside perhaps from some Incel/mass shooting message boards. What there was was a pretty big move-on-from-Trump constituency.
It wasn’t a majority certainly and it wasn’t Never Trump or anti-Trump. But there was a substantial minority of Republicans interested in moving on from Trump’s baggage and the mounting evidence of his electoral weakness — if it could be done. What DeSantis did do last Fall was consolidate almost all of that move-on constituency based on the mistaken belief that he could pull it off. Once that impression started to falter there was no real support for the guy himself to hold on to. And here we are — on a private jet to nowhere.
It's very important for DeSantis that the GOP primary be seen as a two-person race. In two early-voting states, it isn't. https://t.co/dcxrwNwaEu
— Philip Bump (@pbump) July 24, 2023
… Fox Business evaluated support in the primary among likely voters in Iowa and South Carolina. Those are two of the earlier states to vote and, therefore, are likely to help shape the field as candidates are winnowed out. In each state, Trump leads the next-closest candidate by at least 30 percentage points. In each state, DeSantis is in a statistical tie for that second-place position. In Iowa, he gets 16 percent of support compared with 11 percent for Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). In South Carolina, he gets 13 percent vs. 14 percent for the state’s former governor, Nikki Haley. (Scott gets 10 percent there.)…
Interestingly, when the pollsters asked which candidates were the respondents’ second choices, the picture diverged from what we’ve seen in national polling. In Iowa, DeSantis was the second pick of less than a quarter of respondents while Scott is the second pick of 15 percent. In South Carolina, the South Carolina Republicans are both identified as second choices about as often as DeSantis is.
This is hugely problematic for DeSantis. The reason the DeSantis campaign spokesman is so insistent that the governor and Trump are the only two viable candidates is to reinforce that those interested in blocking Trump’s path to the nomination have nowhere else to go. But voters in Iowa and South Carolina — who, again, will help set the field early next year — don’t view DeSantis that way.
There are interesting divides within the results. College-educated voters give Trump smaller advantages (though still an advantage) while those without a college degree and those who identify themselves as “very conservative” give Trump wider margins. That too isn’t great for DeSantis, who has staked a lot on being the candidate for the fringe right…
Why haven't we heard any stories from our inside-the-beltway media about this white man's high staff turnover until now?? https://t.co/X5xA8c4Hts
— David Darmofal (@david_darmofal) July 24, 2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a two-day retreat over the weekend in Park City, Utah, where, sources say, senior campaign staffers briefed top donors on the state of his campaign as he looks to reset his run for the Republican presidential nomination. https://t.co/wg0wwTkRxl
— ABC News (@ABC) July 24, 2023
… The donor retreat was scheduled before the release of the campaign’s second-quarter FEC filing in mid-July, which showed expenditures of some $8 million during the first six weeks of DeSantis’ campaign. That spending rate led the DeSantis camp to cut roughly a dozen staffers, with more shakeups expected, sources have said.
People who attended the retreat appeared to leave “feeling more positive than before about the campaign,” said Chad Wilbanks, a former executive director of the Texas Republican Party who supports DeSantis and was there.
Wilbanks told ABC News that some donors had questions about “fundraising expenses” after reading media reports about the burned cash, but he said “they were addressed” and brushed off suggestions the campaign overspent in the previous quarter.
He said senior aides expressed a fundraising goal he described as “very, very large.” Wilbanks wouldn’t share the number but insisted it was “very doable based on what he’s been able to raise so far.”
At the same time, Wilbanks said, “There was talk of having a little bit more of a leaner operation.”…
More broadly, DeSantis has apparently changed some of his strategy, such as how he engages with the news media.
His campaign had believed the governor could continue shunning mainstream outlets and stick to more friendly platforms like Fox News and other conservative news media. Recently, however, sources have said the governor’s team has leaned toward having DeSantis do some mainstream network interviews and town halls…
NEW: DeSantis campaign is elevating Ethan Eilon to deputy campaign manager b/c he is seen as good w/ $. Gov + Casey were not happy w/spending in first quarter. Next few weeks will be crucial for campaign manager, Generra Peck.
Does ongoing reset work? https://t.co/E1KTDQxdvp
— Nancy Cook (@nancook) July 24, 2023
> Does ongoing reset work?
It depends. Will it finish the self immolation? If so, then it's working _great_!
— mstdn.social/@bruce_korb 🇺🇦 ✍️⧖ 💉😷 (@bruckorb) July 24, 2023