In the lead-up to the 2024 Republican primary elections, three key states – Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada – have been closely watched for their significance in determining the GOP’s presidential nominee. Notably, the controversial and staunchly anti-LGBTQ candidate, Ron DeSantis, finds himself struggling in these early polls, with former President Donald Trump enjoying substantial leads.
Challenges in Iowa and New Hampshire
Iowa, set to hold its caucuses on January 15, has shown Trump with a commanding 48.7% support, while DeSantis trails far behind at just 14.3%, a significant 34.4% deficit. Similarly, in New Hampshire, where the GOP primary is scheduled for January, poll averages reveal Trump’s dominance with a 35.2% lead over DeSantis.
Nevada’s Dim Prospects for DeSantis
Nevada, hosting its primary and caucus in early February, paints a similar picture, with Trump leading DeSantis by an average of 24.75%, according to data from FiveThirtyEight. These discouraging figures underscore the challenges DeSantis faces in securing the Republican nomination.
LGBTQ Concerns and DeSantis’s Declining Support
DeSantis’s divisive stances on LGBTQ+ rights are a notable aspect of his declining popularity. A July 2023 poll from his home state of Florida revealed that even Republican voters there prefer Trump over him. State newspapers have been critical, branding him as “no political genius” and a threat to the nation.
Moreover, DeSantis’s major donors are now turning away, citing a lack of strategic vision for his 2024 presidential campaign. Kenneth Griffin, one of his top contributors, has opted not to donate, reflecting growing doubts within the donor community.
A Daunting Uphill Battle for DeSantis
While some within DeSantis’s camp express optimism, others acknowledge the challenges ahead. Steve Cortes, a key official for DeSantis’s political action committee, Never Back Down, acknowledges the “uphill battle” they face in national polling. However, he remains confident in DeSantis’s ability to rally support around his political record and presidential agenda.
In contrast, LGBTQ+ ally Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) has criticized DeSantis for attempting to outshine Trump on “woke” social issues, including LGBTQ+ and racial inclusion. She argues that his tactics have been politically misguided and divisive, citing a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ ad as an example.
Despite DeSantis’s challenges, the Republican primary race continues to evolve, with LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity emerging as crucial factors shaping the contest.