For anyone who has even a passing interest in presidential politics right now, initially it may seem perplexing that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is getting clobbered in the polls by former President Donald Trump.
While it may be true that DeSantis has shot himself in the foot time and time again with his views about any number of issues that are so far Right that even the most conservative Republicans are bewildered by what he says (the most recent example being his support for teaching Florida school children that slavery may have benefited slaves), the real reason why he is trailing Trump by double-digits — and that margin is growing larger (even in Florida) — is that DeSantis is nothing more than just another politician.
From the moment that he rode down that escalator in Trump Tower, the big allure of Donald Trump (for his base of supporters) is that he is anything but a typical politician. His campaign rallies and rambling speeches do not follow anything close to a traditional political script.
For his opponents, particularly DeSantis, trying to outthink or outwit Donald Trump is a fool’s errand. Trump doesn’t play by the rules, which not only has proven bad for the country-at-large (January 6), but also means that he is not constrained by the conventions of politics-as-usual. It’s not so much that Trump is playing 3-dimensional chess, but that he flips over the board whenever he feels threatened.
In addition, DeSantis faces the conundrum that by accepting Trump’s pretext that the 2020 election was stolen from him, he cannot claim that Trump is a loser. In short, he has swallowed Trump’s bait — hook, line, and sinker.
The bottom line is that to Trump voters, Ron DeSantis sounds just like any other politician on the campaign stump. There’s nothing about him that is even remotely appealing to the GOP base (or anyone else, for that matter), not to mention that DeSantis has an intensely dislikable personality that makes him seem to be talking down to his audience.
Trump may be a con man — but both he and his supporters know it and even embrace it.
As for DeSantis, he is as appealing a candidate as Joe Biden — which is the biggest insult you can toss at any GOP politician.