Everything regarding DeSantis,.
by contrast, seems calculated. He’s the Yale and Harvard guy now complaining about intellectuals and elites. He’s talking about wokism and critical race theory, when no one knows what those are (even Trump noted no one can define woke, though he yells against it himself). When he tries to be as visceral as Trump, he just comes off as weird. DeSantis saying he’s going to start “slitting throats” reminded me of Romney’s “severely conservative.” While DeSantis’s is a dangerous escalation of violent imagery, they both sound bizarre and unnatural.
At a deeper level, Bateman stated:
It’s not at all clear that what most Republican voters (rather than donors) want is a mainstream and party-credentialed version of Trump. The fact that Trump legitimately was an outsider to Republican politics was a core part of his appeal. So too was the calculation by donors and party activists that Trump’s being simultaneously aligned with social and racial conservatives, but able to present himself as not tied to Republican orthodoxy, made him a more attractive candidate in a national election.
Bateman suggested that voters who expect to see DeSantis fully aligned with the orthodoxy of the G.O.P. But focused even more on the social and racial priorities of conservatives, taking over universities, banning books, and attacking transpersons, may see him as a general election loser.
Sears, a psychology professor at U.C.L.A., David O., Mentioned via email that he “felt motivated by your inquiry to conduct a free association experiment” on himself in order to explore the associations he made with both Trump and DeSantis.
The outcome for Trump was:
Archie Bunker, trash-talking, insulting people, entertaining, male, white, older, angry, impolite on purpose, Roller Derby, raucous, uninhibited, tell it like it is, high school locker room, dirty socks thrown in a corner, telling his locker room buddies that he threw his mom the finger when she told him to clean up his room for the millionth time (but of course didn’t dare).
Serious, boring, no sense of humor, Wimbledon, ladies’ tea party, PBS/NPR, civics class, lecture, Ivy League, expensive suit neatly pressed hanging in the closet. “Yes, Mom.”
DeSantis’s effort to replace Trump as the party’s dominant figure encounters a mix of personal and structural obstacles.
Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, argued in an email that DeSantis has adopted an approach to the fight nomination that was unsuccessful.
DeSantis’s strategy, and that of any candidate not named Trump, should be to consolidate the Maybe Trump voters. But DeSantis has seemed like he was going after the Always Trump voters with his aggressive language (“slitting throats”), his comment that Ukraine was just a “territorial dispute,” his suggestion that vaccine conspiracy theorist RFK Jr. would be a good candidate to head the Centers for Disease Control, and his doubling down on whether slavery might have been beneficial to some enslaved people.
According to Ayres, the issue with this approach is that the “Always Trump voters are ‘Always Trump’ for a specific reason — they will not be satisfied with a lesser Trump if they have the opportunity to choose the authentic one.”
Geoff Garin, a pollster affiliated with the Democratic Party, penned:
There is no room for DeSantis or anyone else to outflank Trump on the right, where Trump has his most loyal base. Candidates can argue that Trump is insufficiently conservative on some issues, but that it not the point for Trump loyalists. Candidates can try to echo the ugliness of Trump’s rhetoric, but that too misses what really draws these voters to Trump.
According to Garin, what sets him apart from other candidates is his ability to replicate certain things.
is Trump’s persona and style. Nobody else (especially DeSantis) has his performance skills, and no one else conveys the same boldness, naturalness, and authenticity in voicing the grievances of MAGA voters. Trump makes hatred entertaining for his supporters. DeSantis, by contrast, is a boring drag in his meanness.
Lee wrote by email that the level of support for Trump among Republicans remains sufficiently strong to pose an exceptionally challenging task for any alternative candidate to present a compelling argument against him. Frances Lee, a political scientist at Princeton, further underscores the inherent difficulties confronting a Republican contender who seeks to challenge an incumbent party leader in a primary.