So they read lines like “we will not give up New Hampshire”, without necessarily knowing if this statement by Churchill was justified. For the most part, they could only assent when the memo stated that “[e]Voters in early states are only mildly engaged with the candidates they select on a ballot question so far, including many Trump supporters.”
Until, that is, we got good polls from an early state. Like we did on Tuesday in New Hampshire.
The State Granite Survey conducted by the University of New Hampshire published a reassessment of the Republican primary field, about six months before voting begins. Last conducted in April, it allows us to compare DeSantis’ position before his campaign announcement with his current position. And it shows us that… his position hasn’t really changed.
DeSantis was at 22 percent in April and 23 percent now, a statistically insignificant difference. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump went from 42 percent to 37 percent, a subtle change in itself. Sen. Tim Scott (RS.C.), identified in the DeSantis memo as enjoying new attention, jumped from 2 percent to 8 percent.
That DeSantis stalemate is one of three problematic elements for the candidate within the poll. Another is that the poll shows a continued erosion of his favorability ratings among primary voters, from 73 percent in January (when he led Trump) to 63 percent and then 57 percent. His net favorability, the percentage who view him favorably minus those who view him unfavorably, fell from plus-57 in January to plus-32 in the new poll.
In January, his net favorability was 39 points higher than Trump’s. He is now only nine points higher.
Meanwhile, Scott saw his net favorability rise to plus-46. In part, this is because he’s not a target in the way that DeSantis has been over the course of the year. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose poll numbers also held steady, saw her net favorability turn negative in the most recent poll.
The third challenge DeSantis has is perhaps the most significant. Trump is not only leading it, but three-quarters of Trump supporters say they stand behind him unwavering. By contrast, only 14 percent of DeSantis supporters say they are committed.
When the memo argued that voters in the early states offered only soft support, it was true. It was simply wrong to suggest that this uncertainty applied to Trump as well, according to the Granite State Poll.
This remains DeSantis’ central problem: There are very few Republican primary voters who have not already voted for Donald Trump at least once. Many of them probably voted for Trump in the 2016 primary. Their views of him may have changed, and certainly a lot has happened in the last seven years that might inspire them to do so. But DeSantis isn’t going after a candidate who, like him, is working to build a national coalition. He is running against Donald Trump.
Regardless of what the governor of Florida wants donors to believe, it’s not going so well.