Thanks to everyone who came out last night to the live show—it was great to meet so many of you. I email with a lot of you guys and see others in the comments and it gives me joy to put faces with names.
My aunt came to the show with me last night and she’s not at all political. Cares about this stuff very little. But afterward she told me just how nice everyone she met was. We have a good group here and I don’t ever want us to take that for granted. This thing of ours is special.
So keep that in mind in the comments sections. No name calling. Be your best selves. Choose grace. A community like this doesn’t happen by accident. We build it intentionally, together.
Yesterday Glenn Youngkin dropped a surprise campaign video. By next Wednesday, Tim Scott and Ron DeSantis will both be official. Over the course of the next month the window for getting in will close. So here is something for you to keep in mind:
We’re only 40 weeks from Super Tuesday, which is when the Republican nominee will be all-but-finalized. Eight of those weeks will be July/August summer doldrums when movement in public opinion is sluggish.
Meaning (1) The field is mostly set, and (2) It’s later than you think.
We do not have an infinite horizon stretching out before us and the dream of fantasy candidates is almost dead. This is the group of people from whom the Republican nominee will be chosen and that decision will be made fairly soon.
So let’s rank them.
(1) Donald Trump. Don’t overthink it. He’s the former president. He’s won the last two nominations. He controls the state-level party apparatus in most places. The majority of Republican voters believe he won the 2020 election. He leads his next closest competitor by 36 points and this lead has been steadily growing since April.
If you were going to bet against Trump—even if you could take the entire field—you’d want heavy odds.
Shortly after declaring his candidacy, I wrote that Trump’s big vulnerability was age: If he were tired and low-energy and just going through the motions, then he might be beatable. But he looks pretty vigorous and engaged right now.
(2) Ron DeSantis. The guy who ripped off Trump’s branding when he ran for governor is ripping off Trump’s branding while . . . running against Trump. His campaign slogan: “Make America Florida.”
I do not understand this.
Does New Hampshire want to be Florida? Does Texas want to be Florida? Pennsylvania? Ohio?
Maybe Alabama would love to trade itself in for the Sunshine State. But after that, the list of states that think Florida is better than what they’ve got going on seems pretty short.
And also: Isn’t Florida kind of a national joke? Florida is the weird lady from Tiger King. Florida is the old folks at Del Boca Vista. There’s a whole meme about Florida Man.
Look: I think New Jersey is awesome. Best state in the Union. I could talk to you for hours about how wonderful New Jersey is and how much you would love living here. But if I were running for president would I try telling voters from the other 49 states that I was going to turn where they live into Dirty Jersey?
No. Effing. Way.
All of which is to say that this is one more data point suggesting that DeSantis doesn’t understand how to right his ship.
DeSantis made some smart moves early in buying out portions of Conservatism Inc. from underneath Trump. But since then, he’s been nothing but strategic mistakes: