DeSantis Skips New Hampshire, Heads To South Carolina
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has reportedly decided to give up on New Hampshire just a few days before the state’s GOP presidential primary and instead head to South Carolina, the next state on the primary calendar.
According to Politico, campaign officials say that DeSantis has shifted his focus to South Carolina — scheduling campaign events on Saturday and Sunday.
There are several potential reasons behind DeSantis’ decision to give up on New Hampshire. Some commentators believe he chose to move on to South Carolina because of his abysmal performance in New Hampshire’s polls, as the Florida governor is currently polling in the single digits just days before the state’s Tuesday primary.
FiveThirtyEight reports that DeSantis is polling at an average of 5.4% in New Hampshire — a staggering 40 points below the current GOP primary frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, who is polling at an average of 45.6%.
DeSantis fared better than expected in the Iowa Caucuses, coming in second place with 21% of the vote compared to Trump’s 51%, but he is trailing behind former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) in New Hampshire. Haley, who came in third in Iowa with 19%, is polling far ahead of DeSantis in New Hampshire with 33.1%.
Trump wins the Iowa Republican Caucus with the largest landslide in history.
Trump won with 51% of the votes, winning 98 out of 99 Iowa counties.
Florida Governor DeSantis came a distant second place with 21.2% of the vote.
While Nikki Haley came third with 19.1%. pic.twitter.com/vw0sepZJkA
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) January 16, 2024
DeSantis campaign finance committee member Slater Bayliss has claimed in an interview that the New Hampshire race changed when former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) dropped out. Despite consistently polling near 3% at the national level, Christie had marginal support among supposed “centrists” in New Hampshire, and Bayliss believes that those supporters are now backing Haley following Christie’s departure from the race.
Many have also pointed out that Haley has had support from Democrats switching parties to vote in the GOP primary, with the one Iowa county that Haley won reporting that its precinct ran out of party switch forms as so many Democrats showed up to vote as “Republicans.”
🚨CBS News reports Johnson County Iowa Caucus precinct “ran out” of party-switch forms after Democrats overwhelmed precinct to vote as “Republicans” for Nikki Haley, causing Haley to win by ONE vote
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) January 16, 2024
This strategy could potentially give Haley more support to beat DeSantis in New Hampshire, because independents and undeclared voters are allowed to vote in the state’s GOP primary — and many activists were also calling on Democrats to switch their party affiliation ahead of time to vote against Trump. However, New Hampshire does not allow same-day registration, and the deadline to switch parties already passed on October 6.
Fox News reported that “approximately 3,500 Democrats in the state switched their party registration to become undeclared voters, or independents, ahead of the October deadline. Part of that effort was led by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who recently dropped out of the race, encouraging voters to take every opportunity to turn out against Trump.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis is largely competing for the same voter base as Trump. While Haley is looking toward the left-leaning and establishment voters, DeSantis and Trump are both courting conservative and America First voters. As Trump has a clear monopoly on that voter base, DeSantis will have to campaign harder for their vote. Some commentators have speculated that he gave up on New Hampshire in order to spend more time in South Carolina trying to court those voters, as it was too late to do so with New Hampshire’s primary looming.
The goal for the DeSantis campaign is to make this a head to head race between him and Trump. Let's get some delegates in NH and on to South Carolina where we have a month to take out Haley. https://t.co/7MT9EWDh0N
— Unfiltered☢Boss (@Unfilteredboss1) January 18, 2024
Bayliss has claimed that DeSantis may have a path to victory in South Carolina, Haley’s home state, arguing that his “military service and environmental record should resonate very well” with voters in South Carolina.