DeSantis Pivots Away From New Hampshire To South Carolina

In a telling development in the 2024 presidential race, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is redirecting his campaign efforts from New Hampshire to South Carolina, mere days before the pivotal Granite State primary.

In New Hampshire, a state known for its independent voters and moderate leanings, DeSantis has struggled to gain traction. Current polls paint a stark picture — DeSantis languishes with a mere 5.4% support, according to FiveThirtyEight, dwarfed by Trump’s robust lead at 45.6%. This substantial gap underscores Trump’s enduring appeal to the Republican base, which has evidently influenced DeSantis’ decision to pivot his campaign’s focus.

DeSantis’ realignment to South Carolina, where he hopes his military service and environmental record will resonate with voters, seems more a retreat than a strategic maneuver. Slater Bayliss, a DeSantis’ finance committee member, stressed these points. However, they have yet to translate into significant polling numbers. In South Carolina, DeSantis trails significantly behind Trump, who leads with an overwhelming 54.8%, and even Nikki Haley, who has 24.9% support.

This retreat from New Hampshire indicates a broader issue within the DeSantis campaign. Despite early promise and enthusiasm among certain conservative circles, DeSantis has found it challenging to expand his base and compete with Trump’s larger-than-life presence on the national stage. His brand of conservatism, while potent in Florida, hasn’t resonated as strongly in the broader Republican electorate.

The DeSantis campaign’s shift in focus could be interpreted as a strategic blunder, underestimating the importance of New Hampshire in the primary landscape. While the decision to invest in South Carolina might seem logical given the current polling, it also suggests a campaign struggling to find its footing and identity in a race dominated by Trump’s charisma and political prowess.

Trump’s commanding lead in the polls is a testament to his continued influence and popularity within the GOP. His ability to maintain a loyal base of support and his knack for capturing the media spotlight has made it difficult for other candidates, including DeSantis, to break through. This dynamic has been evident in New Hampshire and South Carolina, where Trump’s numbers remain solid and consistent.

Moreover, the DeSantis campaign’s expectation that a poor showing by Haley in her home state of South Carolina could turn the race into a two-candidate contest seems optimistic at best. With Trump’s commanding lead, the primary appears increasingly like a contest for second place rather than a genuine challenge to Trump’s frontrunner status.

In response to reports he is skipping New Hampshire, DeSantis clarified his campaign’s strategy on Thursday. Speaking to Fox News, DeSantis emphasized the incorporation of South Carolina into his itinerary as an addition, not a substitution for New Hampshire. “It was adding South Carolina in addition to that,” DeSantis stated.