Trump v. DeSantis, by the numbers

trump v. desantis, by the numbers
© Provided by The Hill

Based on a casual reading of the polls, Donald Trump looks to have smooth sailing to the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 and the chance to erase the stink of losing to Joe Biden that he so covets. But if that’s the case, why does Trump seem so panicky these days? Simple: Trump is in trouble, and — when you dig into the numbers — his grip on the GOP nomination is getting more tenuous. It is Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) who has all the momentum.

The good news for Trump is that he still has high approval numbers among Republicans and leads in all but one of the GOP primary ballot tests. But that is where the good news ends. Trump is trending down against DeSantis on the national ballot and, for the first time, is losing in a state primary ballot test. According to FiveThirtyEight, Trump was regularly besting DeSantis with totals in the upper 50s to more than 60 percent, but the last time he hit 60 percent was in Echelon’s late April poll. In the past month, Trump has mostly been in the low- to mid-50s.

Normally, a 28-point lead would be cause for celebration, but not for Trump. Trump’s totals are lagging far behind his approval ratings among Republicans. According to the YouGov June 21 benchmark, Trump is at 80 percent approval, meaning he is running nearly 30 points behind on the ballot test. And all this when Trump is the only Republican really running. Only Trump is holding rallies around the country; he has all but announced his candidacy and continues to work nonstop at dominating the headlines.

Make no mistake, DeSantis is running, just in a highly calculated, surreptitious manner. As a result, his national numbers are not that great at face value. He lags Trump nationally and in primary polling. His national approval is 33 percent approve, 37 percent disapprove, according to the Yahoo News poll. He also has to get through reelection in Florida in November.

Where DeSantis looks best is in comparison to Trump and others. In the same Yahoo poll, every political figure had a net negative rating. Trump was down 10 points and Mike Pence was down 12 points. Negative sentiment was less pronounced for DeSantis: Just 26 percent of independents viewed DeSantis very unfavorably, compared to 54 percent for Trump. With Hispanics — a top GOP target group — DeSantis is under water 28 percent to 33 percent (20 percent very unfavorable), but Trump is down 38 percent to 52 percent (41 percent very unfavorable).

DeSantis also leads all other potential Republican candidates. Only Pence is competitive, but that is a bit generous. Echelon puts DeSantis ahead of Pence, 39 percent to 18 percent; in no recent poll is DeSantis behind. Trump has done a number on Pence within the GOP. Pence is 57 percent approve to 29 percent disapprove among Republicans, very weak for a man with nearly total name recognition. DeSantis polls 58 percent approve to just 15 percent disapprove.

Trump’s gathering storm

With universal name ID and a big initial lead, Trump should be unassailable. But lack of discipline, impatience and self-pity are conspiring to drag him down. The Trump show is getting stale, and he is unable to put distance between himself and hapless Joe Biden — making Trump look like a loser.

Biden’s approval numbers have collapsed, but Trump has barely benefited. Biden is down to a RealClearPolitics average of 39.1 percent approve and 56.4 percent disapprove. His worst result is Trafalgar, at a 35-60 percent deficit (Reuters and Quinnipiac are nearly identical at 36-58 and 35-58 respectively); his best is YouGov, at a 43-53 percent deficit. That is bad, but Trump is worse. YouGov has Trump down 40 percent approve to 55 percent disapprove. Trump is down 43 to 53 percent with independents, 36 to 58 percent with Hispanics, and at a deficit with seniors. Even his Republican numbers are not great, at 80 percent. Typically, GOP voters rally around their standard-bearer in the upper 80s.

The Jan. 6 House Select Committee hearings are not helping. The public is not sympathetic to the Capitol rioters of 2021, with 68 percent disapproving, including majorities of all demographic and ideological groups – 58 percent among Republicans; 52 percent think Trump had “a lot” or “some” responsibility, including majorities or pluralities of all demographic groups; just 24 percent think he had no responsibility.

It is true that the public is far less interested in these hearings than in inflation and other domestic issues, but that only plays well for Trump if he takes advantage. Instead, Trump continues to fume about the hearings and complain that the 2020 election was stolen. His side hobby is inserting himself into Republican primaries, where he has shown a marked inability to move GOP voters.

As a result, Trump is offering no alternative to Biden, and the public wants neither of them. The Yahoo survey shows just 31 percent of the public wants Trump to run; only 29 percent of independents agree, while not a single demographic is net positive. Republicans only agree at 58 percent — and that is without offering alternatives. The numbers are worse for Biden at just 21 percent looking forward to a Biden run, including just 43 percent of Democrats and a mere 12 percent of independents.

Trump is essentially tied with Biden in national polling. In the past month Trump’s best result is a 42-38 percent lead in a May Redfield & Wilton survey. Most recently, the Republican-leaning firm Echelon has Trump down 43-45 percent among likely voters. Not a single poll has put Trump at 50 percent or higher. Considering Biden’s polling nosedive and fumbling response to growing domestic problems, Trump’s numbers are terrible. Just a small uptick in fortune could make Trump a two-time loser to Biden. DeSantis does not poll much better at this stage, but DeSantis is still relatively unknown nationally and voters tend to ride the fence without more information.

Trump feeling the heat

Polling numbers are not the only problem for Trump. DeSantis has the momentum and is playing a disciplined long game. DeSantis is in office, pursuing actual policy, offering real alternatives rather than just complaints; he is capturing the fancy of some in the media and some celebrities like Bill Maher and Elon Musk — things which used to be Trump’s territory.

Trump is on the defensive and faces a long fight – and that is not where Trump does well. Recall that Trump won the GOP nomination by blitzing his opponents with a relatively short campaign; the Republican field was inexperienced nationally, had never seen anything like Trump, and was always on the defensive. Now everyone has seen the Trump show. There is nothing new to offer — he has gone into repeats, like some wheezy syndicated sitcom. Unfortunately for him, Trump is no “Seinfeld.” He’s more like “The Cosby Show” – hot for a while, but now forgotten.

I wrote in this space in May that a DeSantis-Tim Scott ticket would be able to knock out Trump and be a favorite to wipe out any Democratic ticket in 2024. It’s starting to look like DeSantis could do that on his own.

Keith Naughton, Ph.D., is co-founder of Silent Majority Strategies, a public and regulatory affairs consulting firm. Naughton is a former Pennsylvania political campaign consultant. Follow him on Twitter @KNaughton711.

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Palay-Palay  National ParkAbout PagudpudFive Levels of Aguinid FallsIntroducing San Pascual, MasbateMount Manmanoc ItineraryAdventures in Fortune Island of Nasugbu | LakwatseroNext Level Mobile Photography with Sony Xperia XZ1 | LakwatseroScuba Diving in Siargao: Discovering the Underwater Treasures of Daku Island | LakwatseroAbout Davao CityHow to Get to AndaJanuary: Cebu & IloiloHow to Get to Mines View ParkKamay ni Hesus: Pilgrimage Site in Lucban | LakwatseroPoon Hill: Three Days of Himalayan AdventureCalvary Hill Cemetery of SagadaHow to Get to TambobongMilford SoundTen Things To Do in Sagada: Bucket List for NewbiesDahoyhoy FallsPilot for a Day: The Ultra Light Aircraft Experience | LakwatseroReal Coffee and Tea Cafe of Boracay | LakwatseroGhorepani Poon Hill TrekAbout Maniwaya IslandHow to Get to Binanga FallsPalo Alto Falls of Baras, Rizal | LakwatseroExplore Moscow: Best Things to Do in the City | LakwatseroStairway to HeavenMount Guiting-Guiting Overnight Trek Complete ItineraryCape Melville LighthouseLa Cathedral Café: Restaurant with a View in IntramurosKapurpurawan Rock Formation: White and BeautifulDay Hike ItineraryThe Sandbox at AlvieraHow to go to Mararison IslandA Weekend of Adventures in South Cebu and DumagueteCalayan Island: A Virtual Diary of Our Epic Journey | LakwatseroFaro de Isla Jintotolo (Jintotolo Island Lighthouse)Low’s PeakAbout Taal VolcanoHow to Get to Mag-aso Falls of BoholSamar: Biri Rock Formations Up Close | LakwatseroBonbon BeachIntroducing Jomalig IslandAbout Cotabato CityAbout TabukLeyte Landing Memorial: A Memorial for a Fulfilled Promise | LakwatseroSilyang Bato, Mount MaramiPanimahawa Ridge and Cedar Falls Day Hike ItineraryFun in the World’s Best IslandSample Albay ItinerariesMagpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools6 Tips for Living in the Philippines | LakwatseroDaraga Church: The Nuestra Señora dela Porteria ChurchTulgao Rice TerracesCape Melville Lighthouse (Faro del Cabo Melville)Canyoneering to Kawasan FallsLake FewaLong Weekend: Five-Day Suggested Itineraries in Luzon | LakwatseroAbout CaponesThe Wichcraft Café of Zamboanga City | LakwatseroHow to Get to GuiuanAll-Female FloorHow to Get to Neri’s VilleDiotay’s EateryShort but Sweet Melaka Getaway | LakwatseroHow to Get to Tinuy-An FallsOslob: The Lost Grandeur of Tumalog Falls | LakwatseroIlocos ItineraryDitumabo Falls: The Mother Falls of San Luis, Aurora!Biking in Kalinga: Trek and Bike to TabukParadise Garden: A Haven for Sea TurtlesSiargao: Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools | LakwatseroAbout Bucas GrandeCoral GardenSagadaA Walk in Sangay Siapo Island Before it is Gone? | LakwatseroAmbaguio-Akiki ItineraryCorregidor Island Lighthouse (Faro dela Isla de Corregidor)Faro de Punta de Malabrigo (Malabrigo Point Lighthouse)About CulionNaidi Hill LighthouseBoquete IslandHow to Commute to Temple of LeahCatanduanes: The Heritage Church of Bato | Lakwatsero1. White Water Rafting or KayakingMount Fuji Overnight Climb ItinerarySip & Gogh Paint Studio: Unleash Your Inner Van Gogh | LakwatseroBatanes ItineraryHow to Get to Quitinday HillsAbout Callao CaveDiscover LakawonBiking to Taal: A Fun Ride to Batangas’ Heritage TownAntique Blooming: The Rafflesia of San RemigioMalasimbo Lights and Dance FestivalBacolod ItineraryPoon HillAttractions in Mirador Heritage and Eco ParkHulhumale Public BeachRomblon Island: Bonbon Beach, Tiamban Beach & MoreAdventure in Sabah: White Water Rafting in Padas River | LakwatseroHow to Get to Hinakpan Mystical HillsWelcome to Lake SebuAbout CasiguranAbout BuscalanHow to Go to Kalanggaman IslandFaro de Cabo Bojeador (Cape Bojeador Lighthouse)Backpacking Maldives: Budget Itinerary, Expenses & TipsHow to Get ThereOffbeat Bohol Itinerary: 3D/2N of AdventuresHow to Get to Tawi-TawiAlona BeachPangilatan Falls: The Forgotten Gem of Tapaz, CapizWorld War I: SMS Cormoran II3D/2N Taiwan Itinerary: Taipei – Yehliu – ShiffenLaos for Backpackers: Getting There on a BudgetBasic RequirementsHow to Get to Antong FallsCathedral CaveHow to Go to Gubat, SorsogonAbout SadangaHow to Get to Bugui Point LighthouseHow to Get to Cabra Island LighthouseCebu Itinerary: Three-Day Adventures in the SouthAbout AndaLuna: A Day in the Show Window of Apayao | LakwatseroMargues Blue LagoonFinding Palaui’s Cape Engaño Lighthouse | LakwatseroHow to Get to Mantayupan Falls of Barili, CebuHow to Get to MaligcongLinapacan Islands: Between Paradise | LakwatseroKLIA to KLCCHow to Get to JomaligBanaug ShoalEspadang Bato – Payaran Falls Day Hike Itinerary10 Remarkable Philippine Destinations for Solo TravelMiagao Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in IloiloAbout Carbin ReefAbout Parola IslandCabra WreckageCobra Falls: Ozamiz City’s Best Kept SecretBasco: The Chapel on the Hill of Tukon | LakwatseroBack in Kathmandu’s Lovely Mess | LakwatseroHimalayan Adventure: Kathmandu to Pokhara Overland | LakwatseroItineraryChinatown Vancouver (Stop #23)Situbo Falls: Tampilisan's Awesome SurpriseHow to Get to Inambakan FallsTuasan Falls: Another Camiguin’s Charmer | LakwatseroHow to Get to Lake SebuMarinduque Loop: Biking in the Heart of the Philippines1. 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Tubbataha Reefs (Cagayancillo, Palawan)IitineraryAbout Anini-yNacpan BeachAbout Legazpi CityHow to Get to Shifen FallsScuba Diving in Pearl Island of Guiuan, Eastern SamarHow to Get to Nagtabon BeachSiargao Travel RequirementsHow to Go to TanayHow to Get to Garin FarmDay 1: Paoay and San Nicolas (Ilocos Norte)Nueva Vizcaya Weekend ItineraryHow to Climb Mount HamiguitanHow to Get to Santa Cruz IslandMount TalamitamHow to Get to Sambawan IslandBacuit Grill12 Places to Satisfy Your Affogato Cravings in the MetroLion’s RockVictoria HarbourCoronPicture Perfect: The White Island of Camiguin | LakwatseroPanglao: Alona’s Allure | LakwatseroSecrets of the Lakeside: The Waterfalls of Laurel & TalisayMiyaru FaruMemorial Temple of Lord BaoHotel Siesta ShibuyaHow to Get to Tinago FallsSimunul Island: The Birthplace of Islam in the Philippines | LakwatseroBalabac: Onuk Island, Pink Beach & Melville LighthouseBike Diary: Bike and Trek to Buscalan (Mount Polis – Bontoc – Buscalan) | LakwatseroTagaytay (Cavite)Yearend Adventure with Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L GII | LakwatseroFavorite Beach: Punta Sebaring of Bugsuk Island, BalabacWelcome to Apo Reef & Pandan Island!The Ruins of A FamosaHow to Get to Canyoneering SitePacsafe Ultimatesafe Z28, My Newest Ultimate Travel Buddy | LakwatseroPulangbato Falls: The Red Waterfalls of ValenciaLocationSpider House: Boracay’s Chill Corner | LakwatseroThe 10,000 Roses Café of Cordova, Cebu’s Newest CrazeHow to Get to Asik-Asik FallsHow to Get to Dao FallsWelcome to Concepcion1. First Single-Aisle Aircraft to Fly Non-Stop from the Philippines to AustraliaHow to Get to Casino PeakMaadhoo Finolhu (Picnic Island)Cagbalete Travel RequirementsNacpan and Calitang BeachesThe RockiesBalabacPagbilao: Iringan, Malicboy, Bahay-Pagi & Katapang FallsPetronas Twin TowerSta. Fe, Bantayan IslandEverest Base Camp Trek Primer: Frequently Asked QuestionsTaraw Cliff: See the Best View of El Nido | LakwatseroHow to Get to Elephant MountainAbout MandalaySpelunking Rate in Capisaan CavesScuba Diving in Romblon: Blue Hole and Gorda WallHow to Get to Imugan FallsHow to Get to Awao Falls?About SipalayComiran Island: The Pink Beach of Balabac, Palawan | LakwatseroBagan! Oh Bagan! | LakwatseroBuntot Palos Falls, Laguna’s Hidden Grandeur | LakwatseroSandugan WallMagtutuka Rocks