Desantis is vying for the vote of Iowa evangelical Christians ahead of the GOP primaries.
Seen as an easy get for former president Donald J Trump, Iowa republican voters are questioning their allegiance, according to a recent poll.
GOP pollster, Frank Luntz, took a poll of Iowa republicans ahead of the Family Leadership summit, an evangelical gathering last Friday, attended by numerous GOP primary candidates. The poll seemed to indicate that, although voters defended Trump on many points, his brash rhetoric (including a tirade he unleashed against Iowa GOP governor, Kim Reynolds, this week via social media) is turning off constituents.
The tirade in question seemed to be the result of Reynolds’ seemingly silent endorsement of Desantis at campaign events in the recent past, while refusing to officially endorse any candidate ahead of the primaries. Trump said on Truth Social that Reynolds wouldn’t have been elected for governor in 2017 if he hadn’t created an opening via naming the former Iowa governor to the position of U.S ambassador to China, and officially endorsing her in her 2018 race. On Tuesday, Trump doubled down on these comments in a radio interview, saying “With Kim, I helped her get elected. I would say that without me she would not be governor.”
In the poll, potential voters cited the aforementioned comments, as well as a point of departure with his less than alluring public demeanor, as reasons for questioning their continued allegiance. One prospective voter said, “It feels like at some point he swallowed a fifth grader that’s always trying to get out. These insults toward people keep coming out of his mouth.”
Some have also questioned his ability to wrangle any new votes outside of his loyal following which voted for him in 2016 as well as 2020; citing his legal woes as yet another concern.
Voters seem to be the most concerned with finding a candidate that will defend their Christian values, as they feel attacked on social media and in today’s more liberal, inclusive landscape. And, although Trump has begun to campaign in the state, his absence at the evangelical summit last week (along with the attendance of many of the other Republican primary hopefuls) may have created an opening for a lagging Desantis campaign in freefall.