Ron DeSantis has arguably run the worst presidential campaign in modern history. Forget Jeb Bush 2016 or Kamala Harris 2020; no one I recall has done less with more.

DeSantis effectively ran for president of Iowa. He failed when roughly 115,000 souls went to make their voices heard. He now must drop out of the race. The governor risked it all in Iowa and worked hard there — 99 counties and almost a million doors, yet didn’t win a single county! — but he still got shellacked, mainly because he’s not likable and lacks the ability to persuade. Or maybe because he happily campaigned with avowed antisemites and refused to deny it.


He has no staff and virtually no money to go on. He is running a distant third or last in every state that follows and needs to return to Tallahassee and be a solid executive. If he doesn’t, he’s delusional and desperate, wasting others’ money while insulting his supporters and Florida constituents.

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I can lie and make you feel better or tell you the truth, even if it frustrates you. Since last summer, DeSantis has not been above 22% in any poll of likely Iowa GOP voters. That did not change on the frozen tundra across the Hawkeye State.
As I like to tell populists, and as National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote last week, “Not all bad news you hear is part of some elaborate and insidious psychological operation to dampen your morale. Sometimes, the news is just bad. Sometimes the candidate you love goes out and flops, and sometimes the party’s base is hell-bent on nominating somebody else.”
We all know this, and I think Team DeSantis does, too.
A year ago, he was dead-even with Donald Trump and polls — even ahead in some — and now he’s over 30 points behind. Today’s politics is less about competence and policy than likability, emotion, and grievance. That explains Trump’s popularity. It doesn’t matter how it happened; it happened.
DeSantis is not going to receive more money. His is a zombie campaign going nowhere that can’t rely on fantastical scenarios.
Haley, who had limited operations in Iowa until early December, stormed by him nationally and gets stronger now, eventually heading to her home state. She can stay in for a while since she doesn’t have another political job, has financial support, and provides the most significant contrast and alternative to Trump. DeSantis does not.

The interesting part is we are only a week from New Hampshire, and without Chris Christie, Haley has a chance to defeat Trump in the Granite State and will easily defeat Joe Biden in November. DeSantis is going nowhere in New Hampshire. He’s already flown to South Carolina.


Other than how soon Trump begins lashing out with libel and slander at Haley now that he’s concerned, the question is, will the Florida governor endorse anybody? The answer probably is not yet.


The unfortunate part, if you’re a Haley supporter — who is surging in New Hampshire and the only remaining option to knock off Trump or peel away the veneer of invincibility — is that DeSantis is often a predictable sycophant. So many of his supporters likely would go to the former president despite the frontrunner’s absence from debates, electability struggles, and legal issues.

Conspiratorial fraud Vivek Ramaswamy, by the way, had a disastrous night in Iowa. He’s finally ended his charade and predictably endorsed the guy for whom he’s been running as a proxy for the last 11 months.


But when will or does all this occur? Only one week until the Granite Staters vote. It’s now a two-person race.



Ari J. Kaufman is the managing editor of the Tri-Cities Business Journal. He’s written for several newspapers, authored three books, is a frequent guest on radio programs, contributes to Israel National News, and is a featured columnist at The Lid.