After Trump’s loss in the 2020 election and Democrat control of Washington until at least the midterm elections of 2022, one question remains for many Republicans: what is the future of the party? More specifically, who will be the presidential nominee in 2024? Recently, Ron DeSantis seems to be the popular answer.
Ron Desantis is the 46th governor of Florida, taking office in January of 2019. At age 42, he is the youngest governor in the United States. Traditionally speaking, youth is a weakness of a candidate. However, considering Trump was 74 upon leaving office, and Biden is currently 78, American voters may prefer someone with a few less trips around the sun.
Some have observed that Desantis became a serious contender for the 2024 Republican nomination because of the way he handled the COVID-19 pandemic. His actions represent the minimal government, populist approach that the GOP seems to be heading towards. Early into the pandemic, Governor Desantis made the bold decision to reduce COVID restrictions and allow businesses and schools to reopen. This was particularly risky considering Florida’s significant elderly population. While other states exerted lockdowns and heavy regulations, Desantis did nearly the opposite. The approach is working well; Florida’s COVID deaths per capita is 8% lower than the national average. Governor Desantis may have set a trend since Texas and Mississippi followed suit in opening their states up.
In addition, Florida’s unemployment rate of 4.8% is nearly half of New York’s and California’s, which are 8.8% and 9% respectively. While the health and safety of the population must be prioritized over economic performance, the lockdowns create the question of what Governor Cuomo and Newsome are going to do economically when the vaccines are fully administered. Some of these businesses closed down permanently, meaning New York and California may have serious unemployment issues in the long term.
Ron Desantis currently has an approval rating of 64% and is the 7th most popular governor in the United States. Considering how diverse Florida’s population is – approximately 77% White, 16% Black and 26% Hispanic or Latino – and how those proportions are similar to the national averages, it seems likely he can appeal to a wide and diverse voter base on a national level.
Desantis’ gubernatorial term ends in 2023, which is perfect timing to then launch a presidential campaign. If he has ambition for national office in 2024, Desantis looks to have a compelling bid.
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