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of luck. At the end of the day, he’s a plurality, not a majority, candidate. And he’s drawn to other plurality candidates, who, lacking the advantage of running in races with an electoral college or against Hillary Clinton, tend to lose. Winning 46.1% worked for Trump in 2016, but it’s a formula for failure for everyone else.
There are early signs that voters have taken on board the contrast between Trump, who was embarrassed on election night and has been attacking other Republicans in crude terms, and Ron DeSantis, who won a crushing reelection victory and hasn’t felt it necessary to throw out wild charges or insult other party leaders to try to deflect blame from himself.
The polls are very early but telling. A YouGov poll had DeSantis up over Trump nationally in a hypothetical 2024 matchup, 42-35. A new 2024 poll in Texas has DeSantis up by a similar 43-32. And a WPA Intelligence poll has De-Santis beating Trump in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and Georgia.
There will have to be much more of that to signal that a fundamental, enduring shift has taken place and coax party leaders out of their long defensive crouch. The party won’t decide to turn against Trump until voters give it clear, unmistakable permission.
Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.