Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came into the 2024 race looking like he was in a prime position to dominate the race, particularly if Trump didn’t run or, more likely, dropped out because of legal trouble. But then Governor DeSantis ran the worst campaign in memory, utterly blowing whatever reputation he had with silly stunts, idiotic moves, “very online” messaging, and a lack of charisma that contrasts quite poorly with Trump’s personal magnetism.

Voters have realized that, and so Trump’s star has been rising as DeSantis’ has fallen lower and lower. Now, a new poll out of Louisiana shows that Trump is solidly in the lead with a 40 point advantage and that behind him isn’t Governor DeSantis, but rather entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

That poll, conducted by Kaplan Strategies and released on Monday, showed that Trump was far ahead of the rest with 55 percent support. Behind him was not DeSantis, the usual runner up, but rather Vivek Ramaswamy, who received 15 percent support. DeSantis was a noticeable amount behind him, bringing in just 12 percent. The poll added that Vivek is “performing particularly well among parents (20%) and suburban women (19%)

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The other contenders were far behind those three. Former Vice President Mike Pence received just four percent, while Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott each garnered a measly three percent support. Chris Christie only brought in one percent support.

Republican Main Street Partnership president and CEO Sarah Chamberlain, speaking about that poll and why Vivek is advancing as DeSantis is falling behind, said, “While Donald Trump remains the frontrunner, Republican voters seeking an alternative candidate are beginning to coalesce around a few top-tier choices. For much of the past year that was Gov. DeSantis, but Vivek Ramaswamy has risen well above expectations and is currently leading the pack of challengers. Voters are clearly hungry for something new – no group more than the suburban women who often decide elections. If Mr. Ramaswamy, Gov. DeSantis, or any of the other hopefuls want a serious chance at winning the nomination, appealing to those voters should be top priority.

Further, Vivek has taken the strategy that should have been obvious to all of his fellow candidates: generally moving to the right of the former president and being better able to explain the issues and suggested cures, but without attacking the former president. Thus, Vivek has managed to avoid incurring the wrath of Trump and so has not alienated the MAGA base, something that DeSantis failed to do by repeatedly attacking Trump.

That refusal to criticize Trump makes some think that Vivek is angling to be Trump’s Vice President pick, as he is more acceptable to the non-base crowd but also isn’t to the left, like Tim Scott or Nikki Haley, or a Trump critic like DeSantis.

The poll adds that the “Top voter issues include cost of living (27%), political corruption (18%), jobs and the economy (15%), and immigration (15%). Cost of living is a particularly acute issue for GOP primary voters with 42% of mothers naming it as their top concern. The top concern for fathers is political corruption at 29%. 53% say that a candidate MUST share their views on cost of living in order to earn their vote – a higher percentage than seen for issues like taxes (42%), guns (40%), or abortion (35%).

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