NBC just moved this story: RON DESANTIS’ DONORS AND ALLIES QUESTION IF HE’S READY FOR 2024. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that this is becoming an example of the kind of press groupthink we often, very rightly, view with disdain. But it’s still remarkable how quickly many of DeSantis’s biggest backers, or most significant potential backers, have decided he’s not ready for prime time. The piece is based on comments by, interviews with and reports about a range of GOP bigwigs. But it largely focuses on the GOP megadonors who increasingly dominate GOP campaigns as the GOP small-donor world has atrophied. They’re talking about taking a “pause,” pumping the “brakes.” It’s embarrassing and frankly humiliating for DeSantis, who has experienced several such dignity-draining moments of late. But this is all a product of the last two weeks. It’s a rapid shift in conventional wisdom that is driven in large part by groupthink. It’s like a run on the National Bank of DeSantis. The difference is that, in this case, it’s a rapid shift in the direction of a more realistic take on DeSantis’s prospects.
Which raises the question: If the GOP megadonors lose faith in DeSantis, where do they go next? What other untested Republican do they pump up to stratospheric proportions as the new Trump Slayer?
It all has some vague resemblance to the core fact of the global economy since the end of the Cold War: too much capital chasing too few productive investments, a recipe for a constant cycle of boom and bust, panics and crises. Is DeSantis crypto or NFTs? Or is he a securitized bundle of no-hope mortgages?
After possibly pumping up a couple more DeSantis replacements as potential Trump Slayers, I suspect the megafunders go back to Trump. But it’s not 2017 or 2018 or 2020 anymore. A lot of professional Republicans are convinced Trump will lose a presidential rematch in 2024 and bring otherwise promising candidacies down with him. That is a major difference. 2022 may best be seen as a continuation of poor GOP showings in 2018 and 2020. But for a variety of reasons the key Republican stakeholders didn’t see those two earlier cycles in that light. 2022 changed that calculus and solidified the view of Trump as a liability.
Enjoy the hurricane of bad headlines for DeSantis. I do think he’s going to get chewed up by this process. But don’t forget this is also journalistic group think and conventional wisdom in action.