Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has cemented his status as the future of the GOP, thanks to his deft handling of the pandemic and his take-no-prisoners approach to combatting Big Tech censorship and prospective voter fraud.
On Saturday, the Harvard Law School graduate and Navy veteran topped former President Donald Trump in a straw poll of 371 people who were asked whom they preferred in the 2024 Republican presidential race.
The top five candidates were:
- DeSantis: 74 percent.
- Trump: 71 percent.
- Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: 43 percent.
- Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: 39 percent.
- Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina: 36 percent.
When asked to rate the most important policy issues, respondents said border security and election integrity were their top priorities.
According to the poll, the five most important issues were:
- Immigration/border security (82 percent).
- Election integrity (79 percent).
- Religious freedom (75 percent).
- Federal budget/deficit (74 percent).
- Gun rights (74 percent).
DeSantis’s meteoric ascent is not surprising, since he won widespread praise from conservatives for his skillful handling of the pandemic, which included prioritizing the elderly and lifting unscientific restrictions such as extended shutdowns, mask mandates and school closures.
In May, the governor also made a bold, pre-emptive move to block Big Tech censorship of conservatives by making it a crime for social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook to deplatform state political candidates or journalistic enterprises such as Project Veritas.
Florida is the first state to hold Big Tech accountable by requiring social media platforms to publish detailed standards and to apply them fairly. Social media companies will no longer be able to hide behind vague language as to why they censored a Floridian’s post. pic.twitter.com/lt3uPK1EsI
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 25, 2021
Any social media oligarchy that flippantly bans a conservative politician or media outlet will be fined a punishing $250,000 a day.
Florida’s first-in-the-Nation Big Tech Bill will fine social media platforms $250,000 a day for deplatforming a statewide candidate for elected office. pic.twitter.com/jiohyGLccj
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 25, 2021
Last month, DeSantis signed a new election integrity law that strengthens voter identification, bans the mass mailing of ballots and ballot harvesting and prohibits private money from administering elections in Florida.
And two weeks ago, he banned the indoctrination of divisive critical race theory in schools, saying he will not allow left-wing propagandists to “teach kids to hate each other” and “to hate our country.”
Florida’s education system exists to create opportunity for our children. Critical Race Theory teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other. It is state-sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida schools. pic.twitter.com/ludv7ARgNP
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 10, 2021
While many on the right remain staunch Trump supporters, some are concerned that his bombastic style and contentious presidency could alienate voters who are on the fence in 2024.
The brash billionaire’s blunt rhetoric was extremely effective at energizing his base, but it also had the unintended effect of mobilizing his opponents — making everything he tried to accomplish an uphill battle.
While Trump loudly threatened to punish social media giants that suppressed or censored conservatives, his bombast only served to make them dig in their heels and toss countless conservatives off Twitter and Facebook — including himself, while he was still the sitting U.S. president.
In contrast, DeSantis made no strident threats. Instead, he quietly pushed for and signed a law preventing social media giants from cavalierly banning conservatives without explanation or warning.
Similarly, Trump boisterously complained in the months preceding the 2020 election that voter fraud could occur in key battleground states. But he took no concrete actions to prevent such an occurrence.
So when several Democrat-run battleground states abruptly halted their vote count on Election Night in apparent unison, there was no mechanism in place to address such a bizarre move.
There were other jaw-dropping irregularities in the November election that Democrats would undoubtedly still be screeching about if they had occurred in a Republican-run district. But we’re not really allowed to talk about it.
Caught on candid camera…
Fulton County supervisors in Georgia tell poll workers, press and observers to leave the room…
And then pull out SUITCASES of ballots.
Say it with me… F R A U D.
WHERE IS THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE?”pic.twitter.com/1Nc8cZqGXA
— Rep. Jody Hice (@CongressmanHice) December 3, 2020
Would Democrats have tolerated this in a Republican-controlled district?
The scene at Detroit’s absentee ballot counting center is growing more heated. The windows now being covered up. Allegations of violations. Sec. of State says she welcomes challenges. pic.twitter.com/oUL4A0h3Ku
— Matt Finn (@MattFinnFNC) November 4, 2020
Despite some of his shortfalls, Trump remains the undisputed leader of the Republican Party and the right’s uncontested kingmaker.
There is no doubt that he will draw massive crowds if he resumes his MAGA rallies.
And if he decides to run for president again, the GOP and others on the right will throw their support behind him because many still respect and like Trump — flaws and all.
As for DeSantis, his future in the GOP is yuge, no matter what he decides to do in 2024.