A prominent supporter of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has conceded that Donald Trump is currently the “runaway frontrunner” in the Republican primary field.
Steve Cortes, a former Trump adviser who now backs DeSantis, made the candid admission in a Twitter Spaces event Sunday evening, but insisted that he believed the Florida governor will ultimately “close this gap.”
“Right now in national polling we are way behind, I’ll be the first to admit that,” Cortes said in the Twitter Space hosted by user @CryptoLawyerz.
“I believe in being really blunt and really honest. It’s an uphill battle,” Cortes went on. “I don’t believe it’s an unwinnable battle by any stretch, but clearly Donald Trump is the runaway frontrunner.”
Cortes underscored the polling boost that Trump received following a pair of indictments handed down against him, one in Manhattan for allegedly falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments and the other by a federal grand jury in connection with classified documents the 77-year-old kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
“That was not the case before the indictments, it is the case afterwards and it is understandable in many ways,” Cortes said of Trump’s status as the favorite for the 2024 GOP nomination.
Since launching his campaign Nov. 15, Trump has consistently led polls of the GOP primary field, and currently has a 30.9 percentage point lead over his closest rival, DeSantis, according to an average calculated by RealClearPolitics
Despite the daunting margin, Cortes insisted that polling in the first four nominating states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) was “a light tighter,” though he acknowledged: “We are still clearly down. We’re down double digits, we have work to do.”
Cortes joined the DeSantis-aligned Never Back Down political action committee as an adviser and spokesperson in May. The PAC has worked aggressively to buttress DeSantis’ campaign, with aggressive staffing operations in competitive states and constant advertising.
Cortes also attributed DeSantis’s “clear underdog” status to a lack of public knowledge about the 44-year-old.
“His name ID has risen a lot and we know that from our testing and our metrics, but they know very little really about him or about his personal life story or what he’s done in Florida, whereas knowledge of Donald Trump is ubiquitous,” he said.