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Is the G.O.P. the Party of DeSantis?

Ron DeSantis
Photo: Paul Hennessy/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
May 25, 2022

Every time someone asks me whether Ron DeSantis or Ted Cruz or Mike Pence or whoever has a chance of taking on Donald Trump in 2024, I’ve always offered the same answer: It depends on who best embodies MAGA, in all its chest-thumping, millenarian splendor. Admittedly, that classification can be a bit fuzzy. For the past seven (!) years, ever since Trump had a hat-branding brainwave, channeling the America First ethos has meant emulating Trump’s stage persona: who can write the angriest tweets, who can come up with the meanest nicknames, who has the wildest conspiracy theories, who can best suck up to Trump within the next five minutes and get a nice tweet in exchange. 

But as I’ve watched the Republican primary results roll in, it’s been fascinating to see which factors are actually carrying Trump-endorsed candidates over the finish line—especially during a midterm cycle that’s already stacked in the G.O.P.’s favor. In fact, a substantial number of Trump’s candidates suffered major losses at the ballot box yesterday, particularly in races that pivoted on Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the 2020 election was stolen. Election security may be a salient issue, but Trump’s obsessive focus on re-litigating the last war doesn’t seem to be winning new converts.