Between attacks on prosecutors, judges and “Disinformation Democrats,” Donald Trump on Monday posted results of new polling data on his Truth Social website showing the former president holding a 15-point lead in a two-way race between him and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“JUST OUT: I guess Ron DeSantis is not quite as popular in Florida as people thought,” Trump wrote. “I assume, among other things, that they don’t want their Social Security and MediCare cut!”
Whatever one thinks of DeSantis’ popularity in the Sunshine State, Trump may have a point that his populist economic message resonates with voters better than the Florida governor’s more traditional conservative message.
That’s according to Sam Adler-Bell, who writes in an op-ed for The New York Times under the headline “The One Thing Trump Has That DeSantis Never Will” that as DeSantis has emerged as a favorite among the donor class, the former president “retains his grip on blue-collar, less educated and rural conservatives.”
“For the G.O.P., the primary fight has begun to tell an all-too-familiar story: It’s the elites vs. the rabble.”
And in Adler-Bell’s view, as DeSantis positions himself as a more adult version of Trump that plays well among the party elite, the former president appears to understand that working class conservatives aren’t looking for the so-called “best and the brightest.”
Adler-Bell writes that DeSantis is in a “trap of his own devising.”
“His path to the Republican presidential nomination depends on convincing Donald Trump’s base that he represents a more committed and disciplined version of the former president, that he shares their populist grievances and aims only to execute the Trump agenda with greater forcefulness and skill,” Adler Bell writes.
“But it also depends on convincing a G.O.P. elite grown weary of Mr. Trump’s erratic bombast (not to mention electoral losses and legal jeopardy) that he, Mr. DeSantis, represents a more responsible alternative: shrewd where Mr. Trump is reckless; bookish where Mr. Trump is philistine; scrupulous, cunning and detail-oriented where Mr. Trump is impetuous and easily bored. In short, to the base, Mr. DeSantis must be more Trump than Trump, and to the donors, less.”
Adler-Bell notes that in recent weeks Trump has assailed the Florida governor as “as a tool for ‘globalist‘ plutocrats and the Republican old guard.”
And since Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, Adler-Bell writes that he has “sought to further solidify his status as the indispensable people’s champion, attacked on all sides by a conspiracy of liberal elites.”
“While donors and operatives may prefer a more housebroken populism, it is Mr. Trump’s surmise that large parts of the base still want the real thing, warts and all,” Adler-Bell writes.
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