Election integrity and abortion could hurt DeSantis’s chances

2PF15TC Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking in Milton, Florida, on February 2, 2023. (USA)

Op-ed by Elad Hakim | Photo: Alamy

With a presidential bid likely on the horizon, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is not necessarily doing himself any favors with voters in various voting blocks. Specifically, the governor’s position on two key issues could further hurt his chances of becoming president, which were already quite anemic.

Election Integrity

DeSantis was recently asked if President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election was the result of fraud. Conveniently, he failed to answer the question directly.

However, voters are still concerned about cheating in the nation’s elections.

As reported by Rasmussen Reports, “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 60% of Likely U.S. voters think it is likely that cheating affected the outcomes of some races in last year’s midterm elections.”

A further breakdown of the results is telling. In a series of tweets, Liz Harrington broke down the results in more detail.

Specifically, 60 percent of Likely Voters say it is more important to make sure there is no cheating in elections, 53 percent say mail-in ballots make it easier to cheat, and 62 percent say federal and state officials are ignoring evidence of widespread election fraud. Additionally, 78 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of Democrats, and 53 percent of Independents say it is likely cheating affected races in 2022.

How convenient for DeSantis to ignore this very important issue when directly asked about it. By refusing to take a strong stance on this issue, he will have a tough time drawing support from the millions of Trump/MAGA voters who continue to believe that the election was stolen from Trump in 2020.

As a matter of fact, as reported by Politico, referring to a recent CBS poll, “Among voters supporting Trump, three-quarters say a reason that they are backing him is that he actually won in 2020.” Still. DeSantis refuses to specifically answer questions relating to this issue. According to Politico:

“DeSantis himself has refused to say whether he thinks the 2020 election was rigged, dodging or deflecting questions about the outcome or complaining that he’s been asked about it “a hundred different times.” He campaigned in the midterms for candidates who disputed the results of the race, including Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake — two leading election deniers who lost gubernatorial races in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Arizona, respectively.”

Karoline Leavitt, Spokeswoman for Make America Great Again, Inc., recently issued a statement where she blasted DeSantis’s unwillingness to address the “systemic failures” that plagued the 2020 elections and questioned why the governor continues to dodge this issue.  

DeSantis is in a bind in that he is trying to appeal to both, those who reject the notion that the election was marred by fraud, and the large number of Trump supports who think the election was stolen from Trump in 2020. However, his “non-answers” on this important topic could end up costing him a large portion of the MAGA vote, which could easily dash any faint hopes he has of becoming president.

Abortion

DeSantis will also have a tough time with women due to his recent six-week abortion ban. While some of his loyalists hail his decision, many Americans oppose it and take a more middle-of-the-road approach.

As reported in The Week:

“Abortion is expected to be a key issue in 2024, as it was in the 2022 midterms when Democrats campaigned in opposition to new restrictions imposed by state Republican lawmakers since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had protected nationwide abortion rights. A late-February poll by the University of North Florida found that 75 percent of Floridians, including 61 percent of Republicans, were somewhat or strongly opposed to the six-week ban. A GOP megadonor, Thomas Peterffy, said he and ‘a bunch of friends’ were putting donations to DeSantis ‘on hold’ due to his ‘stance on abortion and book banning,’ two issues DeSantis has used to lure Make-America-Great-Again conservatives away from Trump.”

As is further noted in the article, DeSantis will not be able to defeat a Democrat without the support of suburban women, who will not support such an extreme position. Recent polling supports this conclusion and raises concerns for DeSantis with independent voters. As reported by Fox News:

“A new NPR/PBS/Marist poll shows 61% of the country supports abortion rights, including one-third of Republicans. But they also – unlike New York Democrats – support limits on the procedure.

As NPR reports: ‘Two-thirds say abortion should only be allowed, at most, within the first three months during pregnancy. Most Republicans (86%) and independents (73%) favor restricting abortion to, at most, the first trimester of pregnancy. While a majority of Democrats (58%) favor a longer window for abortions to be performed, even 42% of Democrats want limitations.'”

While the Supreme Court recently ruled that abortion is a state issue, some have argued that the decision did not rule out the possibility that Congress could try to pass legislation related to abortion based on various constitutional/legal grounds.

If DeSantis decides to run for president, he will need the support of women and independent voters. However, given some of his recently signed laws and/or comments, the support of those in these two important groups could be much lower than anticipated by those in his camp.

While the economy is likely to be the most crucial issue, election integrity, and abortion are also important issues to voters. By refusing to specifically address questions about the 2020 election and election integrity, DeSantis has likely lost much of the MAGA vote. Tangentially, he has also possibly alienated himself from women and independents by pushing an extreme abortion ban that many voters do not support.

Mr. Hakim is an attorney and columnist. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, American Thinker, and other online publications. He is also a regular guest on OANN’s Tipping Point, and has appeared on Newsmax, The Jenna Ellis Show, Steadfast and Loyal Podcast with Allen West, The Dave Weinbaum Show, and Real America’s Voice. The views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not constitute legal advice.   

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