Iowa will be key, but not critical, for a DeSantis campaign

Iowa will be key, but not critical, for a DeSantis campaign

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking during a recent visit to Iowa

Iowa will be key, but not critical, for a DeSantis campaign

A bad showing out of the starting blocks wouldn't mean the end of the race for Ron DeSantis, but a big start could have a far-reaching impact. That's according to former pro-Trump podcaster and social media figure Bill Mitchell.

DeSantis plans to announce 2024 bid Wednesday on Twitter Spaces with Elon Musk, sources tell AP

UPDATE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to announce his 2024 presidential campaign in a Twitter Spaces event with Elon Musk on Wednesday. That's according to two people with knowledge of the plans who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they weren't authorized to discuss it publicly.

Musk seemed to confirm the news Tuesday in London, saying DeSantis would be making "quite an announcement' on Twitter on Wednesday. He called it "the first time something like this is happening on social media," with real time questions and answers. DeSantis is seen as Donald Trump's leading rival for the 2024 GOP nomination.

Original story continues ...

Governor DeSantis said on American Family Radio Monday that his announced entry into the race for the Republican nomination would come "soon." Stay tuned, the Florida leader essentially told show host Jenna Ellis.

Mitchell, who resides in Miami, has thrown his social media influence of almost half a million followers behind DeSantis – and he argues that a win in the Iowa caucus in February 2024 could make the Florida governor difficult to beat.

"Sometimes it's time to change the guard," said Mitchell, who followed DeSantis on Ellis' program yesterday.

While Trump and DeSantis have similar platforms, Mitchell says a changing of the guard is necessary because, in his opinion, the popular Florida governor will do a better job of getting a conservative agenda through Congress and into American law.

"I'm always amazed when I hear Governor DeSantis speak at the granular level which he understands: legislation. He knows his stuff. I think this alone makes him better qualified to be president because he really understands what the legislation does," Mitchell explained.

"He understands where he can give some, what he needs to stand on, and he can speak the language of Congress. So, when he's whipping them up for these ideas, he can speak directly to them in a language they understand."

That's an important distinction between DeSantis and Trump, whose strength – Mitchell argues – is touching on big, broad issues in a speech.

Speaking of distinctions

Among the other distinctions are who the candidates allow around them. Mitchell said he believes DeSantis "will surround himself with more competent people." That was confirmed recently when Mitchell hosted Ken Cuccinelli, a deputy secretary of Homeland Security under Trump, on his podcast.

"He said that he was amazed in his office how many enemies of Trump had been hired to work for him. He was like, 'What is this? Why is he hiring these people who were opposed to his agenda to work for him?'" Mitchell recalls Cuccinelli's remarks.

In contrast, Mitchell is convinced DeSantis will require loyalty not to himself only but also to the mission. "DeSantis has famously said, 'Listen, if you are down for the agenda, you can stay with us – but if we sense that you're not down for the agenda, you're gone … you're done … you're history,'" Mitchell said.

Latest poll numbers at MorningConsult.com show Trump way ahead of the Republican field with 61% compared to DeSantis' 18%. Similar separation between the two is reported in most recent polls.

Peeling back the layers, asking the right questions

Mitchell, Bill Mitchell

Mitchell suggests voters peel back the layers in those polls and ask the right questions.

"We had one poll come out that showed the intensity of that commitment [to Trump], and it showed that 24% were 100% on the Trump Train. Then 27% were like, 'I'll never vote for Trump under any circumstances,' but 49% were like, 'I could go either way.'

"So," he says, "when you see a poll come out that has Trump at like 53 or 55 [support among Republicans], half of those could go either way."

Mitchell's take on the current poll numbers is that they reflect what most voters know – a former president with a higher profile than a state governor.

As a result, he says, those who aren't fully committed might side with Trump when a pollster catches them on a cell phone because they like his back-room brawler style or the fact that he had some conservative wins in one term as president. But those are the types of voters who could be swayed when they get to know DeSantis, according to Mitchell.

"I don't believe that swagger and bullying define toughness. I think that defines insecurity," Mitchell offered. "Miami-Dade, a blue county [in Florida] that Trump lost by seven points in 2020 DeSantis won by 10 points in 2022. DeSantis appeals to young people; he appeals to women; he appeals to the base that maybe Trump can't access because DeSantis runs on competence. At the end of the day, competence is very, very charming. I think that's what people are going to be attracted to," Mitchell said.

Where are the endorsements? Just wait …

Mitchell continued his take on poll numbers, acknowledging they can also be driven by endorsements. And while DeSantis doesn't have a lot of flashy endorsements right now – due perhaps to his delay in entering the race – Mitchell says what the governor does have is support from his peers, governors, and legislators in various states who may influence voters his direction.

"He's going to get a lot of governors supporting him. We know that DeSantis is very popular with the governors. He's become the prototype for most Republican governors around the country. They're looking at him like, 'Let's do things the way he does things.' Trump, supposedly the huge leader here, has only two governors that are favoring him," Mitchell notes.

Big support in early voting states

History shows it's reasonable to expect some type of post-announcement "afterglow boost" in poll numbers for DeSantis – and according to Mitchell, some of that may be beginning to materialize for the governor.

The pro-DeSantis super PAC NeverBackDown.org reported last week that four New Hampshire representatives have switched from Trump to DeSantis, bringing the governor's support to more than 50 lawmakers in that state. Also, DeSantis has received 37 endorsements in Iowa. Those are critical endorsements, Mitchell explained.

"I would rather have the endorsement of a state legislature than of a federal senator or a congressman because it is a state legislature that is working at the district level with individuals and influencing people to come out and vote. It's not the people in DC; it's the people on the ground. Those state legislature endorsements are huge," Mitchell said.

Presidential primary voting begins next year with the Iowa caucus on Feb. 5. The New Hampshire primary follows on Feb. 13.

Though officially unannounced, DeSantis campaign ads have been running in some early primary states.

"What Trump has going for him right now is this sort of veil of invincibility," Mitchell said. "[Some are saying] he can't lose. 'I want to be with a winner,' right?

"But the key is going to be Iowa," Mitchell concluded. "We've got endorsements from 37 legislators, the president of the Iowa Senate and the House majority leader. If DeSantis can go there and notch a win, that changes everything."