DeSantis won't drop out of primary even if he's third in Iowa

 January 16, 2024

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been slowly sinking in GOP primary polls since he announced his candidacy in May, but he said ahead of the Iowa caucuses that he wouldn't drop out of the race even if he ended up in third place. 

“We’ve been built for the long haul. It’s all about the accumulation of delegates,” he said as reporters repeatedly pressed him about his plans.

DeSantis predicted that he would make a strong showing in Iowa, where his team campaigned daily for the past few months and covered every district in a grass roots effort.

“We’re going to do well. I know the media likes to do the speculation…I’m excited for the votes to come in because that’ll be the first real data point,” DeSantis said.

A squeaker

The polls showed him and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley neck and neck going into the caucuses as she appeared to gain momentum and he appeared to lose it.

The results for the caucuses showed DeSantis in second place over Haley, but not by much. DeSantis earned nine delegates with 21.2% and Haley got eight delegates with 19% of the vote.

Neither one was anywhere close to former President Donald Trump, who had a record-setting win at 51% of the vote, and earned 20 delegates.

Ramaswamy dropping out

Vivek Ramaswamy was the only other candidate to make a sizeable showing, with 7.7% of the vote and three delegates, but Ramaswamy announced on Monday night that he would suspend his campaign and endorse Trump.

"It is true that we did not achieve the surprise that we wanted to deliver tonight," Ramaswamy said. "As of this moment, we are going to suspend this presidential campaign."

"Earlier tonight, I called Donald Trump to tell him that I congratulate him on his victory. And now going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency," he later said.

While both Haley and DeSantis hope to gain some of Ramaswamy's votes, it's just as likely that his supporters will follow his recommendation and turn to Trump, further cementing his already formidable lead.

A difficult path for DeSantis

It seems unlikely that DeSantis could gain enough support to unseat Trump if he hasn't done so already.

Trump's status as a victim of Democrat attacks has gained him the sympathy of many Republicans and independents, and he has a proven track record as president, while DeSantis has lesser executive experience running a large state.

Still, it's a months-long process in which anything can happen, and previous primaries have shown that the winner in Iowa does not always go on to get the nomination. For now, DeSantis is sticking it out in the hopes that his position will improve.

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