For a brief moment in March 2023, the U.S. appeared to have two major Republican presidential candidates. However, after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) finished his book tour, the poll numbers looked terrible. In fact, CNN.com pointed out that DeSantis was polling at the same level as conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who's running as a Democratic presidential candidate.
"A new survey of 500 very likely voters in Kentucky’s Primary from Emerson Collegeholds that 'former President Donald Trump holds the majority of support with 70 percent, an 8-point increase since April, from 62 percent,'" reported Florida Politics this week. "Ron DeSantis follows with 14 percent, a 9-point decrease since last month, from 23 percent to 14 percent.'"
The Messenger spoke with former Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), who explained that the poor showing by DeSantis is sending a clear message to all Republicans that they could jump into the race too.
“Most of the candidates and potential candidates believed Gov. DeSantis had weaknesses and could be beaten. The fact that he has fallen in the polls has validated that belief and encouraged more people to get in the race,” said Hogan.
If someone as big as DeSantis is only polling at 14 percent, anyone polling at 10 percent doesn't look like such a loser after all. The problem for DeSantis, however, is that the more people that jump into the race, the less likely he is to make it all the way through the first three primary states.
“I made the decision to not enter the race in order to avoid a multi-car pileup like 2016 that enabled Trump. A lot of folks seem to have made a different calculation,” Hogan continued. “Right now, Trump and his campaign are clearly happy to see an increasingly crowded field.”
The theory is that the "not Trump" vote will be split into four or five pieces, and Trump can easily sail to victory. Already, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) has entered the race. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is in, too, and will have a ceremonial announcement this week. Former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) also announced earlier this year, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy announced in February.
The Trump campaign isn't being cagy about it, either.
“To say we welcome Tim Scott to the race would do a disservice to the service he’s doing us,” a Trump confidant told The Messenger. “Ron is supposed to announce his campaign next week, and he’s going to find it’s going to be a lot more crowded than he originally figured."