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Is DeSantis the rising star and Trump the falling star in early GOP polls?

Trump declared his candidacy for president in 2024 in 2022, while DeSantis still hasn’t declared he’s running.

Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
REUTERS/Gaelen Morse, Marco Bello

You have to have a solid base in confidence, or at least a powerful belief in yourself, to run for office.

I wouldn’t want to do it.

But the self-confidence of Donald Trump (at least if we are to take him at his word) is so epic that he never bothered with the usual protestations of caution or, God forbid, humility.

I recall, way back at the beginning of his astonishing march to the presidency in 2016, during the Iowa caucuses (which he lost, by the way, to Ted Cruz), when Trump announced that his supporters were so devoted to him that: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?… It’s, like, incredible.”

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And it really was incredible. A century or two of political wisdom would suggest that you don’t brag about how much your supporters love you. You humbly express gratitude for their support and promise that you will try not to let them down. Right? But for Trump in 2016, his arrogance sold.

In 2020, he never stopped bragging, but his luck ran out. The last few thousand of his most fervent admirers paid a terrible price for following his instructions to march from a Fascist-style blood rally to the Capitol and overturn the results of an election that he had lost to more conventionally humble-seeming Joe Biden.

Right now, his 2016 brag about his hold over his fans is being put to a powerful test. Will they all stick with him for one more try in 2024? 

At the moment, the indications aren’t looking too solid for Trump. His unprecedented decision to announce preemptively in 2022 his planned 2024 comeback has met mixed reactions, and his poll numbers are actually falling. Those of his likely chief rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are rising. 

If Trump thought his indecorously early announcement that he would deign to be the Republican nominee again in 2024 would warn off all competitors, it isn’t working. And the latest polls (to which we shouldn’t pay too much attention two years out) show Trump highly vulnerable, at least to DeSantis (who, unlike Trump, hasn’t announced his candidacy yet).

If two polls that came out of the field most recently are any indication, Trump and DeSantis are neck-and-neck, which suggests that DeSantis is the rising star and Trump the falling star, although the two poll results were so unalike as to raise obvious questions.

A Morning Consult poll, graded a “B” by the political numbers-obsessed crew at showed Trump leading DeSantis 49-31 percent. But a B-plus-rated Suffolk University poll for USA Today had DeSantis leading Trump by 56-33, although the sample size was significantly smaller. Those results are summarized here.

I know it’s too early for all but the truly-obsessed to poll watch. And I don’t even know which of those two frontrunners I would prefer to see get the Republican nomination, because my gut tells me DeSantis would be the stronger general election candidate. 

I’ll try not to write about this again until next year. But, after all, that’s only two weeks away.