DeSantis scores silver medal in Iowa, may not be enough to keep him in the race for the long haul

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The first round of voting in the Republican Presidential Primary has come to a close and former President Donald Trump walked away from the Iowa Caucus with a decisive victory, but the night also went well for Governor Ron DeSantis.


For DeSantis, Iowa was largely seen as a make-it-or-break-it moment, with the Florida Governor desperately needing to generate momentum for a campaign that has steadily been losing support since he first announced his candidacy back in May.

“This is kind of DeSantis’ haymaker. He really tried hard in Iowa, pulled out all the stops, he hit all the counties,” said UNF political science professor Sean Freeder.

Freeder explained since there was little chance of any candidate scoring a victory over Trump in the Hawkeye State, DeSantis, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley were both vying for the number two spot.

As anticipated, Trump pulled slightly more than half the vote and easily came out on top, but DeSantis did manage to exceed expectations set by the polls heading into the caucus, which had in him in third to Haley by about three points.

“This is probably going to be enough for both of them to justify maintaining their status in the race,” said Freeder.

Coming in at slightly more than 21% of the vote, DeSantis outperformed the polls by about five and a half points and managed to secure the silver medal.

But Freeder argued the two-point margin of victory over Haley may not have been as decisive as the DeSantis campaign was hoping for and it’s not clear whether DeSantis found the spark he needed to carry him through New Hampshire and South Carolina, where polls show him in a distant third to Haley.

RELATED: New Hampshire gets its turn after Trump’s big win in Iowa puts new pressure on Haley and DeSantis

“Now he’s got a bunch of races in front of him that maybe favor Haley more that he has not spent enough time in. So, if his best shot at Trump is being 30 points behind, that still rates to me as a loss even if he did better than he thought,” said Freeder.

As for when the Governor may be back in his home state of Florida, Freeder said he’s skeptical DeSantis will stay in the race past South Carolina, short of a major shift in the race.

“This was his big break. I think he needed to get several points above Nikki Haley. He beat her, but not by enough. I think he’s probably going to be walking wounded. I don’t see him quitting after New Hampshire, I do see him quitting after South Carolina,” said Freeder.

The New Hampshire Primary is slated for next Tuesday.

South Carolina’s is set for February 24th.

If Freeder’s prediction rings true, we could see Governor DeSantis back in Tallahassee in time to catch the end of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session.

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