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    Florida governor Ron DeSantis passionately praised the former president – now he is being talked about as a possible presidential candidate himself.

    How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know

    When he was first running for governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis was fulsome in his admiration for Donald Trump. The Yale-educated, Catholic family man may have a very different background to the glamour-loving businessman, but politically they soon became entwined. But as Trump’s star has waned, DeSantis has shone brighter. In the midterms, Trump-backed candidates performed poorly, while DeSantis won a resounding victory to become re-elected governor of Florida with his focus on culture war issues. Yet as DeSantis has grown in political popularity, relations between him and Trump have cooled. Now many are talking of DeSantis as a potential Republican candidate for the presidential elections in 2024 – just as Trump announced his own bid. Is DeSantis ready to take on his former idol – and, if he does, what could a bitter battle between the two Republicans mean for the party and US politics? More

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    Wednesday briefing: Trump announces his third presidential bid – but can he win?

    Wednesday briefing: Trump announces his third presidential bid – but can he win?In today’s newsletter: The former president wants to make American great again … again. Here’s what he said, how it was received and what the arguments are for and against – gulp – Trump 2024

    Sign up here for our daily newsletter, First Edition
    Good morning. To many observers in the Republican party, Donald Trump was the single biggest drag on their hugely disappointing performance in last week’s US midterm elections. Trump has listened, weighed the available evidence, undertaken a searching examination of his own role in the debacle, and – you are not going to believe this – concluded that he disagrees. Instead, he told an enthusiastic audience at Mar-a-Lago overnight, “in order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”Persuaded of his own magnificence though Trump is, there are many good reasons to think that his return is extremely bad news for the Republican party. And yet. With the help of the Guardian US reporting team, today’s newsletter will run you through what the former president said, how it was received and what the arguments are for and against – gulp – Trump 2024. That’s after the headlines.Five big stories
    Russia | Joe Biden has said that a missile that landed in Poland killing two people on Tuesday was “unlikely” to have been fired from Russia due to its trajectory. Amid alarm over at the implications of any attack on Nato territory, Moscow has denied responsibility, while Poland would only say that the missiles appeared to be “Russian-made”.
    Cop27 | Fear of countries backsliding on their commitments to tackle the climate crisis dominated the Cop27 UN climate talks in Egypt on Tuesday, as the first tentative drafts started to emerge of key potential decisions. Documents and proposals seen by the Guardian showed some countries attempting to unpick agreements and water down commitments.
    Housing | The death of Awaab Ishak, an “engaging, lively, endearing” two-year-old, was a result of chronic mould in his family’s social housing flat in Rochdale, an inquest said. The coroner said Awaab’s tragic death should be a “defining moment” for the housing sector.
    G20 | Rishi Sunak will extend Britain’s hand to China for the first time in almost five years, asking for closer relations on energy and the economy in a meeting with president Xi Jinping on Tuesday. The move risks a backlash from Conservative MPs who have had sanctions imposed upon them by Beijing.
    Egypt | Alaa Abd el-Fattah, the British-Egyptian democracy activist in jail in Egypt, has said in a letter to his family that he has ended his six-month hunger strike.
    In depth: ‘It feels very strange to be back here again’Trump’s advisers had hoped his speech might be limited to 45 minutes: in the event, he continued for more than an hour. David Smith sent a voice note from the Mar-a-Lago ballroom shortly after he finished. Trump’s confirmation of his intention to run “prompted an eruption of cheers and whistles from several hundred guests under the crystal chandeliers,” he said, but “apart from that I think the general consensus here is that it was a pretty low energy speech … unusually for anyone who’s been to one of his rallies, it was at times quite boring.”There were some characteristically wild moments, like his vow that drug dealers will “receive the death penalty for their heinous acts”. But overall, David said, “I did not see much at Mar-a-Lago tonight that is going to rattle Joe Biden or potential Republican rivals in the primary.” You can read David’s sketch, in which he compares Trump to “an ageing champ returning to centre court only to find he’s holding a wooden racket,” here.It feels “very strange to be back here again”, said Guardian US political correspondent Lauren Gambino. After disappointing midterm results, “there are all these questions about what the future of the party should look like, and he’s just really pulling them back to 2020”.Here are some arguments for and against Trump’s chances of winning the Republican nomination.Why Trump’s not the force he was1 He was a drag on Republicans in the midtermsIf ideological or ethical concerns have never been enough to wean the GOP off Trump, cold electoral arithmetic might be. The party has now failed in three elections in a row with him as its figurehead. In a midterm year which by any historic guide should have been a success for the “out” party, Republicans failed to capture the Senate and will only squeak the narrowest of victories in the House of Representatives.Trump ignored those disappointments, instead celebrating: “Nancy Pelosi has been fired. Isn’t that nice?” But whatever he says, it looks as if his influence was a crucial reason for the failure. In this analysis for the Washington Post, Philip Wallach, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes that in competitive races, candidates with Trump endorsements fared around seven percentage points worse than those he didn’t support.2 He’s lost important support in the media and party establishmentUntil recently, Trump could count on the near-unanimous backing of the conservative media in the US. Now, as Adam Gabbatt writes in his analysis of rightwing media coverage, there have been signs that Rupert Murdoch’s empire may have turned on the former president, who was branded “Trumpty Dumpty” by the New York Post and called “the Republican party’s biggest loser” by the Wall Street Journal.On Fox News last night, Adam writes, “it seemed that not everyone was ready to let Trump go”. But there were still nuances to the coverage which would once have been unimaginable.“Fox News has been tied so closely to Trump for so long that an immediate ditching was always unlikely – but there were some small signs through the evening that perhaps they’re pulling away,” Adam said in a voice note. He pointed to an interview with possible rival Mike Pence, a “quite subdued” appearance from longtime supporter Sean Hannity, and the decision to cut away from Trump’s speech to analysis even as it continued.“I think in previous years if Trump had a big announcement to make at 9 o’clock, that’s, like, three hours of Fox News coverage sorted – just Trump, Trump, Trump. It wasn’t that.”It’s not just the media: for one example of how the party establishment feels more able to take on Trump, see this story from Monday on Politico, which notes that the influential Club for Growth – once a reliable Trump cheerleader – has pushed out polling data showing him trailing rival Ron DeSantis in key primary states. Even his daughter Ivanka says she will not be part of the 2024 campaign.3 He has a viable rival on the far rightDeSantis (below) was one of the Republican party’s few big winners on election night, beating his Democratic rival by almost 20 points in the race to be governor of Florida. DeSantis is a threat to Trump precisely because he hews pretty closely to his extreme ideology without the former president’s baggage or unpredictability – and a YouGov poll shows him with a seven-point lead among Republican voters nationally.Trump’s nickname for the man he views as the only serious threat to his domination of the Republican party, Ron DeSanctimonious, is pretty funny – but Republican voters may ask themselves if they wouldn’t prefer a more “normal” politician who, at 44, also presents a helpful generational contrast with 79-year-old Joe Biden. For more on the Trump-DeSantis rivalry, see this piece from yesterday by Chris McGreal. And Martin Pengelly has a guide to the other likely candidates.Why he might be the candidate anyway1 He wasn’t the Republicans’ only problem in the midtermsWhile Trump was undoubtedly an issue for Republican candidates, there are sound arguments that the party’s difficulties were not limited to his influence. In the American Conservative, the successful Trump-endorsed Senate candidate in Ohio, JD Vance, argues that blaming the former president ignores the Democrats’ advantage in “small-dollar fundraising” and calls Republican efforts “paltry by comparison”. While the overall fundraising picture is complex, Axios reported that in the 10 most competitive Senate races, Republicans were outraised by $75m among small-dollar donors.It may be hard to wholly separate fundraising from Trump’s influence as rallying force for Democrats. But Vance argues that the best way to solve the problem is to “build a turnout machine” and that the party has “one major asset … to rally these voters: President Donald Trump”. (Unsurprisingly, Trump agrees: he has blamed the GOP establishment, the electoral system, the candidates themselves and reportedly, for her alleged role in leading him to support doomed Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, his wife, Melania.)2 He can still win the nomination without being very popularA presidential election is another question – but in the contest for the Republican nomination, Trump can prevail with the highly motivated minority of Republican voters who still prefer him to any other candidate. Republican pollsters estimate that proportion of GOP primary voters at between one-third and 40%. In 2016, Trump won the Republican primary with about 45% of the vote overall, and many states with less than that. Until DeSantis or anyone else proves they can defeat him with voters, he remains a very serious candidate for the nomination.3 He’s been underestimated beforeIt would be foolish to write off the extensive evidence that Trump’s star is on the wane – but past experience suggests that it would be equally unwise to write him off so early. Meanwhile, there is no sign that the Republican party is thinking hard about what a successful political message that repudiates Trumpism would look like.One plausible theory is that despite his many disadvantages, his supporters are less interested in winning elections than in maintaining their love affair with the politician who tells them they’re right about everything. “It’s tempting to see the strength of the Maga forces ebbing at last, the calendar leaf turning over on the Trump era,” Tom Scocca wrote for the New York Times this week. “But how do you declare defeat for a movement that is built around refusing to accept defeat?”Extremely onlineFor a raucous summary of how Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter has gone so far, look no further than this exhaustive thread from @christapeterso. Features Mario giving the finger, and Musk on the future of the company: “We all need to be more hardcore.”What else we’ve been reading
    Once you’ve read Dan Hancox’s account of “proper binmen” memes, you’ll see the past and the present differently. Beautifully written, subtle and featuring a three-paragraph rendition of the sweep of the “baby boomer nostalgia industrial complex” that could hardly be bettered. Archie
    India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has presented himself as a committed environmentalist who wants his country to embrace renewable energy, all while unveiling plans to increase coal production to 1bn tonnes a year. Hannah Ellis-Petersen dives into India’s energy conundrum. Nimo
    Ageing gamers like me have much to learn from Keith Stuart’s guide to surviving an online ecosystem ruled by trigger-happy teens. As with most things for the over-30s, it comes down to not running, spending a lot of money on equipment and hiding as much as possible. Archie
    David Squires’ cartoon on the death of Qatar World Cup worker Rupchandra Rumba by “natural causes”, building on the reporting of Pete Pattisson, makes the brutal conditions faced by those who made the tournament possible inescapable. And read Pattisson’s piece on what he’s learned in reporting on migrant workers’ plight. Archie
    In this hilarious and honest Q&A, Liam Pape spoke to the comedian Sara Pascoe about the best and worst advice she’s ever received, her relationship with feminism and her new show Success Story. Nimo
    SportWorld Cup | Gay Qataris have been promised safety from torture in exchange for helping authorities track down other LGBTQ+ people, a prominent Qatari campaigner told the Guardian. Dr Nasser Mohamed said foreign gay fans would not face prosecution during the tournament but warned that gay Qataris faced a very different reality.Football | England’s Lionesses could not find a 17th victory of the year but signed off on an unbeaten 2022 with a 1-1 draw against Norway, who equalised late on despite the sending off of Anja Sønstevold.Cricket | Simon Burnton’s review of the T20 World Cup reflects on the tournament’s thrilling unpredictability – the Netherlands v South Africa for best match? – and asks the hard questions of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.The front pagesOur Guardian print edition leads with “Russian barrage strikes Ukraine amid claims missiles hit Poland”. The front-page picture is Awaab Ishak, not even two, who died from mould in the family flat. Of that, the Daily Express says “Tragic death of boy from mould shames Britain”. The Times has “Russians blamed for fatal strike on Poland” while the Daily Mirror says “Russian bombs hit Poland” under the banner “Tyrant’s war on Ukraine” with a picture of Vladimir Putin. “Putin’s war spills into Poland” – that’s the i, while the Daily Telegraph has “Russian missile strikes Poland”. The Metro says “Putin’s war escalates – ‘Russian missiles’ hit Poland”. In the Financial Times, it’s “Sunak urges bosses to curb their pay and look after staff”. The culture wars are back on in the Daily Mail: “Universities are told to ‘decolonise’ maths and computing”. And the footballer Ronaldo has told the Sun that “I keep our baby Angel’s ashes. I talk to him all the time”.Today in FocusReclaiming Kherson: what Russia’s retreat reveals about the fight for UkraineUkrainians have reacted with jubilation after retaking Kherson city and the region around it. But what did living under Russian occupation do to the area and its people – and is this really the beginning of the end of the war?Cartoon of the day | Martin RowsonThe UpsideA bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all badCorals that were planted in 2017 at Fitzroy Island on the Great Barrier Reef have spawned for the first time. They were planted as part of a pilot programme testing the benefits of offshore “coral nurseries” – the hopes were that the corals that were grown from fragments that had survived mass bleaching would be resilient to heatwaves in the future. The spawning has been described as a “beautiful milestone” in the journey to recovering Australia’s corals. So far the Reef Restoration Foundation has established 33 coral nurseries to help the health of the reef on a small localised scale.Sign up here for a weekly roundup of The Upside, sent to you every SundayBored at work?And finally, the Guardian’s crosswords to keep you entertained throughout the day – with plenty more on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. Until tomorrow.
    Quick crossword
    Cryptic crossword
    TopicsDonald TrumpFirst EditionRepublicansUS politicsUS midterm elections 2022Ron DeSantisnewslettersReuse this content More

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    Donald Trump announces 2024 run for president nearly two years after inspiring deadly Capitol riot

    Donald Trump announces 2024 run for president nearly two years after inspiring deadly Capitol riotTwice-impeached ex-president makes expected election announcement despite shaky midterms and surge from rival Ron DeSantis00:52Donald Trump on Tuesday night announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, likely sparking another period of tumult in US politics and especially his own political party.“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said from ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he stood on a stage crowded with American flags and Make America Great Again banners.Vowing to defeat Joe Biden in 2024, he declared: “America’s golden age is just ahead.”The long-expected announcement by a twice-impeached president who incited a deadly attack on Congress seems guaranteed to deepen a stark partisan divide that has fueled fears of increased political violence.Who’s next? Republicans who might go up against Trump in 2024Read moreBut it also comes as Trump’s standing in the Republican party has suddenly been put into question. Trump spoke at Mar-a-Lago a week after midterm elections in which his Republican party did not make expected gains, losing the Senate and seeming on course for only a narrow majority in the US House.In his remarks, Trump took credit for Republicans’ performance victory in the House, even though they are poised to capture a far narrower majority than anticipated. “Nancy Pelosi has been fired. Isn’t that nice?” he said. The Associated Press has not yet projected which party will win the majority.In a party hitherto dominated by Trump, defeats suffered by high-profile, Trump-endorsed candidates led to open attacks on the former president and calls to delay his announcement or not to run at all. As Trump’s standing has slipped, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, has surged into strong contention after sailing to reelection last week.Trump’s announcement also coincided on Tuesday with the release of Mike Pence’s memoir, So Help Me God, in which the ex-president’s once-faithful lieutenant criticizes him for his conduct on January 6. The former vice-president is also maneuvering toward a possible 2024 run despite falling out of favor with the Maga base.Brushing past Republican setbacks in 2022 and his defeat in 2020, Trump insisted that he was the only candidate who could deliver a Republican victory in 2024.“This is not a task for a politician or a conventional candidate,” he said. “This is a task for a great movement.”His third candidacy comes as he faces intensifying legal troubles, including investigations by the justice department into the removal of hundreds of classified documents from the White House to his Florida estate and into his role in the 6 January attack. Trump has denied wrongdoing and used the attacks to further his narrative that he has been unfairly targeted by his political opponents and a shadowy “deep state” bureaucracy.“I’m a victim,” Trump said, making reference to the Russia investigation and the raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate. On Tuesday, Trump nevertheless pressed forward with his run.Painting a bleak portrait of the United States, with “blood-soaked” city streets and an “invasion” at the southern border, Trump said his campaign was a “quest to save our country.”In the less than two years since Biden took office, a period Trump referred to as “the pause”, he accused his successor of inflicting “pain, hardship, anxiety and despair” with his economic and domestic policies.Trump offered an alternative vision, which he called the “national greatness agenda”. Among the policy proposals he endorsed on Tuesday were the death penalty for drug dealers, term limits for members of Congress and planting an American flag on Mars. And wading into the social fights he enjoys inflaming, Trump promised to protect “paternal rights” and keep transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.Though he made no explicit mention of his stolen-election lies, he promised to overhaul the nation’s voting laws, vowing that a winner would be declared on election night. In close contests, it can take several days before enough votes are tabulated in a state to project a winner, but Trump and his allies have seized on the delay to spread baseless conspiracy theories about results.Despite promising to deliver remarks as “elegant” as the gold-plated room he was standing in, Trump’s rambling, hourlong speech turned to name-calling and ridicule, lashing the “fake news”, mocking the former German chancellor Angela Merkel’s accent and accusing Biden of “falling asleep” at international conferences. At one point, he appeared to confuse the civil war with the reconstruction period that followed and scoffed at climate science.Without acknowledging his 2020 defeat, Trump insisted that beating Biden in 2024 would be much easier because “everybody sees what a bad job has been done.”He called Biden the “face of left-wing failure and government corruption” and accused him of worsening inflation and “surrendering” America’s energy independence. He also slammed the administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as “the most embarrassing moment in the history of our country”.“Our country is being destroyed before your very eyes,” he said, casting his four years in office as a glowing success, despite leaving behind a nation shaken by disease and political turmoil.Now 76, Trump was long seen as a colorful if controversial presence in American life, a thrice-married New York real-estate mogul, reality TV star and tabloid fixture who flirted with politics but never committed.But in 2015, after finding a niche as a prominent voice for rightwing opposition to Barack Obama – and a racist conspiracy theory about Obama’s birth – Trump entered the race for the Republican nomination to succeed the 44th president.Proving immune to scandal, whether over personal conduct, allegations of sexual assault or persistent courting of the far right, he obliterated a huge Republican field then pulled off a historic shock by beating the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 election.Trump’s presidency was chaotic but undoubtedly historic. Senate Republicans playing political and constitutional hardball helped install three supreme court justices, cementing a dominant rightwing majority which has now removed the right to abortion and weakened gun control laws while eyeing further significant change.Trump is running for president again – but these legal battles might stand in the wayRead moreTrump’s third supreme court pick, replacing the liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Amy Coney Barrett, a hardline Catholic, came shortly before the 2020 election. That contest, with Obama’s vice-president, Joe Biden, was fought under the shadow of protests for racial justice and the coronavirus pandemic, the latter a test badly mishandled by Trump’s administration as hundreds of thousands died.Trump was conclusively beaten, Biden racking up more than 7m more votes and the same electoral college win, 306-232, that Trump enjoyed over Clinton, a victory Trump then called a landslide.But Trump’s refusal to accept defeat, based on his “big lie” about electoral fraud, fueled election subversion efforts in key states, the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters and far-right groups, a second impeachment for inciting that insurrection (and a second acquittal, if with more Republican defections) and a deepening crisis of US democracy.01:41With a third White House bid, Trump hopes to defy political history. Only one former president, Grover Cleveland, has served two nonconsecutive terms. Cleveland was elected in 1884 and 1892, but, unlike Trump, he won the popular vote in the intervening election of 1888.Trump flirted with announcing a new run throughout Biden’s first two years in power, ultimately delaying until after midterm elections, which did not go as he or his party expected. But while high-profile backers of Trump’s stolen election myth were defeated, among them his choice for Arizona governor, Kari Lake, more than 170 were elected, according to the Washington Post.Until his midterms reversal, Trump dominated polling of potential Republican nominees for 2024. His closest rival in such surveys, DeSantis, reportedly indicated to donors he would not compete with Trump. But the landscape has now changed. DeSantis won re-election by a landslide, gave a confident victory speech to chants of “two more years” and has surged in polling – prompting attacks from Trump. At least one Republican mega donor, Ken Griffin, has said he backs the Florida governor.Should Trump dismiss DeSantis as he has so many other challengers and win the nomination, the 22nd amendment to the US constitution would bar him from running again in 2028. But a rematch of 2020 remains possible. Though Biden will soon turn 80 and has faced questions about whether he should seek a second term himself, he is preparing a re-election campaign.TopicsDonald TrumpUS elections 2024US politicsRepublicansRon DeSantisJoe BidenUS midterm elections 2022newsReuse this content More

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    Trump v DeSantis: Republicans split over 2024 run and predict ‘blood on the floor’

    Trump v DeSantis: Republicans split over 2024 run and predict ‘blood on the floor’ County leaders say they fear ex-president is even more divisive than he was two years ago and is therefore unelectableTerri Burl was an early member of Women for Trump. As chair of her local Republican party branch in northern Wisconsin, she twice campaigned vigorously for his election in the key swing state. By the time Trump left office, Burl rated him the greatest president since Ronald Reagan. Maybe even better.But now Burl has had enough.She viewed the prospect of Trump announcing another run for the presidency – as he did in Florida on Tuesday evening – with trepidation. Burl predicts “a lot of blood on the floor” if it comes to a fight with rightwing Florida governor Ron DeSantis for the Republican nomination, and defeat in the 2024 election if the former US president is the candidate.Trump for 2024 would be ‘bad mistake’, Republican says as blame game deepens Read more“I will back whoever the Republicans choose to run in 2024. That’s a given. But I want them to go through the primaries and I hope it’s not Trump. He has too much baggage now. We need new blood because it’s obvious that he can’t get to business now without doing things to make people angry. His behaviour hasn’t changed,” she said.Burl, a substitute teacher, is not alone.The Republicans’ failure to deliver the much promised “red wave” in the midterms was a significant blow to Trump’s claim to be the voice of his party’s voters, not least because of the defeat of key candidates endorsed by him. But backing from the grass roots, which gave him a tight grip on the Republicans for years and kept its hostile leadership at bay, has been eroding for months.Republican county chairs and activists say support for the former president has diminished as a result of his continued pushing of election conspiracy theories, the investigations into his businesses and political actions, and his attacks on his most threatening challenger, DeSantis. Above all, there is a deepening fear that Trump is now even more divisive than he was two years ago when he lost the popular vote to Joe Biden by more than 7m votes, and is therefore unelectable.But local Republican leaders also say that Trump retains a substantial and virulently loyal following within the party that will fight to the last and could still decide the primaries.In rural Iowa, Neil Shaffer, chair of the Howard county Republican party, said he would rather see DeSantis as his party’s candidate in two years but that the membership of his branch is split.“Honestly, Trump’s got a lot of baggage, self-inflicted. Had he taken the loss gracefully, and held his tongue, and didn’t further these conspiracy theories, he probably could have been a president again, with an interim of Biden,” he said.“People that came to the Trump bandwagon, there were a lot of independents, a lot of first-time voters, a lot of everyday people. They did overlook some of the issues. Since then, a lot of the people that I’ve talked to that were first-time Republican voters would have a very difficult time being as enthusiastic for Trump this time around just because of how he didn’t gracefully take an exit. He lost a lot of political capital between November 2020 and January 6, and unnecessarily. All self-inflicted.”Shaffer said he has faith in the electoral system and that Biden legitimately won the election.Like Burl, Shaffer wants to see other candidates challenge Trump for the Republican nomination.“I honestly am a big fan of Governor DeSantis and have been for several months just following through this last campaign. Fresh face. Has the same kind of agenda as Trump without all the baggage,” he said.But Shaffer, speaking before Trump’s announcement, said he doubted Trump could be beaten.“If Trump runs, I’m 99% sure he’ll have the nomination. I know how caucuses and primaries work. You don’t have to have that many people show up and he has a very loyal and dedicated following,” said Shaffer.Burl is not so sure that Trump would win the primaries but she predicts a bitter fight that could further damage the Republican party.“If these two guys are the ones that are left, going back and forth, I think it’s gonna be brutal. There will be a lot of blood on the floor,” she said.A YouGov poll in the days immediately after the midterms gave DeSantis a seven-point lead over Trump among Republican primary voters, including independents. That’s a shift from a month before the elections when Trump had a 10-point advantage. However, among “strong Republicans”, Trump retains a narrow lead.Burl administrates a private Facebook group, American Patriots. She polled its members and found that Trump had a slight edge in support. In other social media forums, some of his supporters say he is a “proven fighter” who can connect with the public in ways no other politician can. Others say the time has come to “dump Trump”.“I love what DJT did for America. But … is he even electable?” asked one of his supporters.Others questioned his judgment after he backed weak candidates in the midterms solely because they were loyal to his claim that the last presidential election was stolen.Trump’s deriding of his Florida rival as Ron “DeSanctimonious” days before the midterms was a last straw for some. Then he took to Fox News to warn off DeSantis from running for the presidency, saying “he could hurt himself very badly” and threatening to “tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering”.“I think he would be making a mistake. I think the base would not like it. I don’t think it would be good for the party,” said Trump.Burl said she was “shocked” by the former president’s attack on DeSantis.“Trump is starting to call him names and that really disappointed me. And then he said that if DeSantis tries to run against him, he’s got some dirt on DeSantis that he’s going to bring up. That’s not the way to do things,” she said.Burl said some Republicans were concerned that while they saw Trump as his own man, DeSantis was too much of an accomplished politician whose decisions are calculated according to what he thinks will play well with voters.“Some people are saying that they don’t trust DeSantis because they think that he will cross into the establishment side. I’m not establishment. I don’t like establishment candidates. I like people like Trump,” she said.“But even though some people might look on DeSantis as establishment right now, I think he is coming out as his own type of Republican and really doesn’t want to cavort with all of the establishment Republicans and do what they say.”Shaffer is concerned about the damage Trump will do to the Republican party, and its presidential nominee, if he loses and goes down fighting.“How does Trump run and not tarnish the other candidates?” he said.And if Trump is the nominee? Shaffer said he would still campaign for the former president, but doesn’t relish the prospect.“If Trump got the nomination it will be a much more difficult for him this time around than it was in 2020. We’re gonna have to work very hard, much harder than in 2016 or two years [ago],” he said.TopicsUS midterm elections 2022US elections 2024US politicsDonald TrumpRon DeSantisRepublicansnewsReuse this content More

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    ‘It’s time to move on’: have the US midterms finally loosened Trump’s grip on the Republican party?

    Analysis‘It’s time to move on’: have the US midterms finally loosened Trump’s grip on the Republican party?Chris McGreal in Columbus, Ohio and David Smith in WashingtonAfter the party came up short in another election, Ron DeSantis may be poised to become its new leader Sitting at the head table in a white and gold ballroom, beneath glistening chandeliers and an ornately corniced ceiling, Donald Trump looked sullen as midterm election results flashed up on a giant TV screen.Across Florida, 200 miles from his opulent Mar-a-Lago estate, the mood was quite different. In Tampa, Governor Ron DeSantis was celebrating his landslide re-election by repurposing lines from Winston Churchill.“We fight the woke in the legislature,” DeSantis declared as his photogenic young family looked on against a stars and stripes backdrop. “We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”‘Ron DeSanctimonious’: angry Trump lashes out at Republican rival Read moreAs the jubilant crowd chanted “two more years!”, suggesting that DeSantis, not Trump, should run for US president in 2024, was this the moment that power slipped inexorably from one to the other – that the Republican crown passed from old king to young pretender?Some in the party are ready to declare it so. David Urban, a longtime Trump ally, told the Washington Post: “It is clear the center of gravity of the Republican party is in the state of Florida, and I don’t mean Mar-a-Lago.”If such a shift has taken place, it did so gradually, then suddenly. Since he descended an escalator at his New York headquarters in June 2015, Trump has dominated and defined the Republican party, crushing rivals in the Republican primary then eking out a victory over Hillary Clinton to seize the White House.But the party of Trump suffered drubbings at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020. And despite forecasts of a “red wave” in 2022, it fell short again. From Michigan to Pennsylvania, novice candidates endorsed by the former president proved they were unready for prime time and too extreme for a wary and weary electorate.Finally, some Republicans admitted what everyone else could see: Trump is an albatross around the party’s neck. Virginia’s lieutenant governor, Winsome Earle-Sears, once a vocal supporter, told the Fox Business channel: “The voters have spoken and they have said that they want a different leader. And a true leader understands when they have become a liability. A true leader understands that it’s time to step off the stage. It is time to move on.”Rupert Murdoch already has, it seems. “Trumpty Dumpty”, boomed the front page of his tabloid the New York Post. “Trump is the Republican party’s biggest loser” was the verdict of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. A column on the Fox News website proclaimed: “Ron DeSantis is the new Republican party leader. Republicans are ready to move on without Donald Trump.”Indeed, if Trump was the big loser of the night, DeSantis was the big winner. His victory by nearly 20 percentage points was a personal vindication that appeared to put Florida, once the quintessential swing state, beyond Democrats’ reach for a generation.His stunning wins in big, majority Latino counties, including Miami-Dade and Osceola, set him up to make the case that, as a presidential candidate, he could repeat the formula in states such as as Arizona, Nevada and Texas. “We have rewritten the political map,” he told supporters.A DeSantis 2024 campaign would also promise generational change. At 44, the former navy lawyer and congressman would be similar in age to John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama when they ran for the White House, a sharp contrast from 76-year-old Trump or Joe Biden, who is turning 80 this month.Crucially, DeSantis could sell himself as Trump 2.0, an upgrade committed to the same “America first” policy agenda, media sparring and liberal-baiting (he recently flew Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard) but without the liability of multiple federal, state and congressional investigations.He could also break from Trump over the coronavirus pandemic, contending that he kept Florida open while the then president was urging lockdowns. Tim Miller, former communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, said: “He would try to paint Trump as somebody that lost, is a loser and is costing the party. He’d probably criticise Trump for not being stronger on Covid and say he should have fired [Dr Anthony] Fauci.”DeSantis is especially popular with conservatives for taking the lead on “culture war” issues related to race and gender. Last year he got into a spat with the Walt Disney Company over his support of the controversial law, nicknamed “don’t say gay” by opponents, prohibiting the teaching of gender identity concepts to young children.But if you come at the king, you best not miss. Trump has spent months preparing to strangle the DeSantis campaign at birth. At a campaign rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, last weekend, he casually rolled out a nickname, “Ron DeSanctimonious”, hoping to brand his opponent as he has so many before.On Tuesday, menacingly, he told Fox News: “I think if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. I really believe he could hurt himself badly. I would tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering – I know more about him than anybody – other than, perhaps, his wife.”And on Thursday, with DeSantis buzz reaching a crescendo, Trump lashed out in a lengthy and angry statement berating Fox News and other Murdoch-controlled media for going “all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious DeSantis”, whom he called “an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations”, as he again took credit for DeSantis’s 2018 win.“Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer,” he wrote, comparing the race to his winning 2016 campaign. “We’re in exactly the same position now. They will keep coming after us, MAGA, but ultimately, we will win. Put America First and, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”Soon after, he invited reporters to a “Special Announcement” at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night, presumably confirming that he is mounting a third consecutive bid for the White House. Some allies were quick to offer pre-endorsements, with Elise Stefanik, the Republican chair in the House of Representatives, declaring herself on team Trump.JD Vance, who won a Senate senate race in Ohio with Trump’s backing, did likewise. And at a rally for Vance in Dayton the night before the elections, many supporters sporting Make America Great Again hats and T-shirts were hoping for Trump to announce his candidacy there and then.But even within a crowd of enthusiastic fans there were those who had doubts. Mandy Young said: “I think Trump was a great president but I don’t think he can win again. He is too divisive. The independents who voted for him before won’t vote for him again because of all the investigations.“Also, I don’t like the way he called DeSantis ‘DeSanctimonious’. I think DeSantis would be a great president. It makes me think Trump doesn’t care about the Republican party winning, only himself. He should step back. He would still have a lot of influence as a respected godfather giving advice.”On election day, Jeffrey Weisman, a consistent Republican supporter because he says the party is better for the economy and his jewellery store business, voted at the biggest Greek Orthodox church in Columbus, Ohio.Weisman supported Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections but would prefer the former president stayed out of the next one. “I like DeSantis. Having Trump going out there as well I think will hurt DeSantis’s chances. So for that reason, I do not want Trump to run,” he said.The strengths and weaknesses of Trump’s influence were on display in Ohio’s election for US senator. The former president’s endorsement of Vance pulled the bestselling author of Hillbilly Elegy and venture capitalist from the back of the field in the Republican primaries and won him the nomination. But Trump’s backing then dragged down support for Vance in Tuesday’s general election, even if he won.Mark R Weaver, a Republican strategist in Columbus, who has worked on several hundred state and national campaigns, said that has implications for any challenge from DeSantis both in Ohio and across the country.“Trump’s ability to improve a candidate’s chances is weakening. He’s no longer able to guarantee or even predict someone he endorses is going to win. Whatever charm he had has worn off, certainly in the general elections. In the primaries, he can still be a big factor. In Ohio he was.”Weaver said that while Trump would still win a Republican contest for the presidential nomination against DeSantis if it were held today, that may not be true by the time the primaries actually begin in early 2024.He said: “I have noticed a slow descent of Donald Trump’s popularity amongst Republicans. I’ve noticed a rapid ascent of Ron DeSantis’s popularity.“If those two trajectories continue, Trump slowly getting weaker and people looking for better options, and DeSantis quickly getting stronger and having more people support him, the trajectory lines could cross right about March of 2024. That sounds like a crazy statement right now but if those trajectories cross, Ron DeSantis can beat Trump in the primaries in 2024.”Trump’s political obituary has been written by Republican elites countless times before only to prove wishful thinking. An Access Hollywood tape in which he boasted about groping women’s private parts couldn’t do it. His half-hearted condemnation of a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, couldn’t do it. His proposal that injecting bleach might cure coronavirus couldn’t do it. Even his incitement of a coup attempt at the US Capitol couldn’t do it. Can DeSantis do it by appealing to the bottom line: electability?Tara Setmayer, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said: “I’ve always said that the Republican party would not fully respond to offloading Trump until they lost enough elections. Political actors are single seekers in re-election, and once their power is threatened, that is usually where a course correction happens.“But they’ve gotten themselves into quite a quagmire with Donald Trump because he still has a solid 30%, at least, base of support, and that is large enough to still create headaches for the party if they try to offload him.”Setmayer, a former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill, added: “They also do not have a formidable enough heir apparent. It is not Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis is a paper tiger who was created and propped up by Donald Trump. He does not have the political talent, the charisma or the toughness to take on the onslaught coming his way from Trumpworld. It’s already beginning.”Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, agreed. “Trump would eat him alive,” he said. “Right now Trump is still the dominant player in the Republican party. Most of the base is still with him. DeSantis is utterly untested. He’s weird. He has zero charisma. He’s thin skinned. He can’t think on his feet. He’s never been tested and he’s easily offended. Trump will do and say anything.”Walsh, who challenged Trump in the 2020 Republican primary, added: “Trump’s the king. If you try to slay the king and you don’t, your career is over. That’s a huge, huge risk a 44-year-old guy like DeSantis would be taking.”They are not alone in arguing that, while DeSantis is like Trump without the chaos, he is also Trump without the charisma. The former president’s rallies are rollicking, knockabout affairs that give his fans community, entertainment and laughs. DeSantis is said to be unskilled in retail politics and somewhat humourless.Jennifer Mercieca, a professor in the communication and journalism department at Texas A&M University, said: “Donald Trump is an authoritarian PT Barnum. He’s able to keep our attention and curiosity. He’s got great comedic timing. He has a good sense of drama and Ron DeSantis doesn’t have that kind of easily translatable appeal for media audiences. His affect is flat. He’s not as entertaining.“The thing about Donald Trump is that he’s really entertaining. He’s good at keeping our attention and primarily he does that through outrage and things that are very negative for politics and political problem solving. But in terms of a matchup between those two, I would put money on Trump.”Trump has shown himself perfectly capable of going scorched earth and burning the whole party down. A ferociously nasty bareknuckle primary fight between him and DeSantis will have Democrats reaching for the popcorn. At a valedictory press conference at the White House, Biden seemed amused at the prospect. “It’ll be fun watching them take on each other,” he said.TopicsUS midterm elections 2022Donald TrumpRon DeSantisRepublicansFloridaUS elections 2024US politicsanalysisReuse this content More

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    Who were the big winners and losers of the US midterm elections?

    Who were the big winners and losers of the US midterm elections?Biden and DeSantis are on the up, but Donald Trump and some of the Republicans’ more unhinged candidates flopped After months of campaigning and billions of dollars spent on advertising, the message from America’s midterm elections could essentially be boiled down to: “Not as bad as Democrats feared.”There were big wins for Republicans in Florida, and the party still seems likely to take the House, but elsewhere candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump flopped, and there were key victories for supporters of reproductive rights.As Trump licks his wounds after being compared to an egg on legs by a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, and as Democrats celebrate avoiding a predicted “red wave”, here’s a look at who did well, and who suffered.WINNERSJoe Biden, US presidentMuch of the talk ahead of last Tuesday’s elections was about how Biden might tank the Democratic party’s candidates. Republicans across the country ran ads tying their opponents to Biden, banking that the unloved president would turn off voters. It didn’t work, as Democrats performed much better than expected across the board. Biden remains very unpopular – his approval rating dropped to 39% in a Reuters poll this week – but that doesn’t seem to be hindering his party. The results prompted Biden, who turns 80 later this month, to repeat his recent assertions that he will run for a second term as president in two years’ time.Ron DeSantis, Republican Florida governorIt’s not just that the Florida governor won re-election, in what is supposed to be a swing state, by almost 20 points. In the process, DeSantis, 44, has also found himself anointed by the rightwing media as the future of the Republican party – in the case of the New York Post, quite literally: “DeFuture”, blasted the front page of the tabloid on Wednesday morning. DeSantis, an anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ rights Republican, is seen as a more palatable, less hysterical version of Donald Trump. He has been cagey about whether he will run for president in 2024, but if DeSantis does want to launch a campaign, then this was a pretty good way to start.John Fetterman, Democrat Senate candidateThree years ago John Fetterman was mayor of Braddock, a town of fewer than 2,000 people. On Tuesday he was elected to the US Senate, and will represent 13 million Pennsylvanians. It has been a remarkable rise, made all the more astonishing by the fact Fetterman had a stroke days before the Democratic primary in May. The 6ft 8in, tattooed, permanently hoodie-clad senator-elect is still recovering – he relied on closed captioning to process questions in a debate in October – but overcame a stiff challenge from Trump-backed Mehmet Oz to win relatively easily on Tuesday. Fetterman, who has previously said he owns only one suit, is going to have to do some clothes shopping.Reproductive rightsAway from the noise and intrigue about Republican and Democratic candidates and races, Michigan voters approved a ballot measure to secure a constitutional right to abortion, blocking the imposition of a 1931 abortion ban in the state. In Kentucky, voters rejected a measure which would have denied constitutional protections for abortion. North Carolina Republicans failed to secure a majority which would have enabled them to ram through restrictive abortion bans, and it was a similar story in Wisconsin, where the re-elected Democratic governor, Tony Evers, will have the power to veto abortion laws proposed by the state legislature.LOSERSDonald TrumpThe one-term, twice-impeached president had a shocker of an evening, as one after another, many of his endorsed candidates flopped in key races across the country. The fact that many of the Republicans Trump had backed lost isn’t the only thing that will sting. Several of Trump’s people underperformed in states – including New Hampshire and Georgia – where Republicans who had not been anointed by Trump triumphed. To top it all off, Rupert Murdoch seems to have turned on Trump. On Thursday the New York Post, a Murdoch-owned tabloid, mocked up an image of Trump as Humpty Dumpty. “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall – can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” read the accompanying text.Republicans – outside Florida and New YorkWith an unpopular Democratic president, soaring inflation, high gas prices and widespread doom and gloom about the economy, this was supposed to be the night that Republicans swept through Congress in a “red wave”. They didn’t. By Friday, with votes still being tallied in some states, the Republican party was still short of a majority in the House and the Senate, as Democrats out-performed expectations across the country. There were some exceptions. In Florida both DeSantis and Marco Rubio, the state’s incumbent senator, cruised to victory, and Republicans flourished in state-level races too. It was, the Tampa Bay Times declared, “an electoral catastrophe for Democrats”.(Some of) the unhinged candidatesIn Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano, a Christian nationalist state senator who paid for buses to take people to what became the January 6 insurrection and tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election, was swept away in the governor’s race. Matthew DePerno, a fellow election conspiracy theorist who had branded Democrats “radical, cultural Marxists” lost his bid to be Michigan’s attorney general, and his ideological counterpart Kristina Karamo failed to become secretary of state. Tina Forte, a Republican who attended the January 6 rally and has dabbled in QAnon conspiracy theories, was crushed in her attempt to defeat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman, in New York.TopicsUS midterm elections 2022Donald TrumpUS politicsRepublicansDemocratsAbortionJoe BidenfeaturesReuse this content More

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    Has ‘Trumpty Dumpty’ taken a great fall from Rupert Murdoch’s grace?

    AnalysisHas ‘Trumpty Dumpty’ taken a great fall from Rupert Murdoch’s grace?Adam Gabbatt in New YorkMurdoch-owned media have not held back against the former president in the wake of Republicans’ disappointing midterms On election day, Donald Trump was clear about how his efforts to support Republican candidates should be seen.“Well, I think if they win, I should get all the credit,” Trump told NewsNation. “If they lose, I should not be blamed at all.”Jared Kushner: I stopped Trump attacking Murdoch in 2015Read moreUnfortunately for Trump, he did not get what he hoped for. Instead the former president has seen conservative news outlets, the Rupert Murdoch-owned ones in particular, turn on him, in some cases with gleeful abandon.“Trumpty Dumpty” blared the front page of Thursday’s New York Post, the tabloid Murdoch has owned since 1976. Editors went so far as to mock up Trump as Humpty Dumpty, his enlarged orange head stuffed into a white shirt and a signature red tie.Today’s cover: Here’s how Donald Trump sabotaged the Republican midterms— New York Post (@nypost) November 10, 2022
    Next to the picture of Trump as an egg perching precariously on a brick wall, the text goaded: “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall – can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?”The Post cover offered the most visceral insight into Murdoch’s thinking, and its contempt was far from an outlier in the mogul’s news empire.“Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser” was the verdict of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. A subheading added: “He has now flopped in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022.”The piece was just as scathing as the headline, running through nine races this November the paper said Trump had effectively tanked through his continued election denial, his various wars with more moderate Republican candidates and his general unpopularity nationwide.“Since his unlikely victory in 2016 against the widely disliked Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump has a perfect record of electoral defeat,” the editorial said.“The GOP was pounded in the 2018 midterms owing to his low approval rating. Mr Trump himself lost in 2020. He then sabotaged Georgia’s 2021 runoffs by blaming party leaders for not somehow overturning his defeat.”It added: “Now Mr Trump has botched the 2022 elections, and it could hand Democrats the Senate for two more years.”Trump-backed candidates lost in several key states on Tuesday, including Pennsylvania, where Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor running for Senate, and Doug Mastriano, an election-denying extremist running for governor, were both thwarted.What was most crushing for Trump were the states where candidates he endorsed were outperformed by those he hadn’t.In New Hampshire, Trump-backed Don Bolduc lost decisively to his Democratic opponent, incumbent US senator Maggie Hassan. Chris Sununu, the Republican governor who did not receive Trump’s endorsement, won re-election easily, by more than 15 points.Herschel Walker, the retired football star endorsed by Trump in Georgia for the Senate, will head to a runoff against Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, after neither man won more than 50% of the vote. Brian Kemp, the unendorsed Republican, cruised to victory in the governor’s race against Stacey Abrams, his Democratic opponent.Murdoch had his doubts about Trump before the businessman and reality TV star ran for president in 2016. Even when Trump won, Murdoch was unconvinced, reportedly privately calling him a “fucking idiot” following one conversation about immigration.Some Murdoch outlets, including Fox News, notably backed away from Trump over the summer, giving him less airtime. In her book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, Maggie Haberman, a reporter for the New York Times, said Murdoch had been keen to wash his hands of Trump after the 2020 election.“‘We should throw this guy over,’ Murdoch said of Trump, exhausted by Trump’s refusal to concede and his almost manic speech on election night,” Haberman wrote.But the speed and comprehensiveness of this week’s step-away still came as a surprise. There was a sense it was preplanned, that Murdoch subordinates decided in advance not just that Trump was done, but also on the identity of their new man.The day before Trump was presented as an egg on legs in the New York Post, the paper celebrated the re-election of Ron DeSantis, the Trump-esque Florida governor rumored to be planning a presidential run, with a front page which declared him “DeFuture”.Even Fox News, once Trump’s safe space, the TV network where he would often just call in for a chat, seems to have officially moved on.The channel offered scant defense of Trump in its analysis of election night, while on the Fox News website, the article leading the opinion page on Thursday was headlined: “Ron DeSantis is the new Republican party leader.”“The biggest winner of the midterm elections was Ron DeSantis. The biggest loser was Donald Trump,” the piece said. “Many will conclude, on the basis of the midterm 2022 results, that the Republican party is ready to move on, without Donald Trump as its leader.”It seems Rupert Murdoch already has.TopicsDonald TrumpRupert MurdochRepublicansUS politicsRon DeSantisanalysisReuse this content More

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    Trump paved Ron DeSantis’s way. Now apprentice has turned on master | Cas Mudde

    Trump paved Ron DeSantis’s way. Now apprentice has turned on masterCas MuddeTrump unleashed a revolution that opened the door to people like DeSantis. Now the Florida governor and his supporters want to continue that revolution without its original leader The day after the midterm elections, the knives were out for Donald Trump. On rightwing social media, people were emotionally debating the alleged toxicity of the former president and his hand-picked nominees, while Fox News highlighted the victory of the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, emphasizing that he is “reviled by Trump”, while heralding the “dominating win” of the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. A Fox News contributor pronounced DeSantis “the new Republican party leader”. In fact, the idea that DeSantis is the big Republican winner of the midterms – and Trump the big loser – seems to be the broad consensus in today’s media.There is, of course, at least one dissonant voice: Trump himself. Sensing that the tables are turning rapidly, he went on Fox News to warn DeSantis to stay out of the 2024 presidential election. In his typical mafioso way, Trump said, “I don’t know if he is running. I think if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. I really believe he could hurt himself badly.”There is no doubt that DeSantis had a great night. He won his own race convincingly, while delivering three new House seats to the Republican party, courtesy of his blatantly partisan gerrymandering. At the same time, DeSantis did less than 2% better than Marco Rubio in the Senate race, putting some doubt on his particular appeal. Moreover, as too few media noted, Florida Republicans undoubtedly profited from DeSantis’s years-long campaign of voter intimidation, which entailed unleashing a newly created “vote-fraud squad” on mostly innocent voters; against the broader national trend, Democratic turnout seemed significantly down in Florida.It is important to note that the shift from Trump to DeSantis does not indicate a return to “normal”, in the sense of old-school conservatism. DeSantis and Trump are both clearly far right and there is little ideological space between the two. Rather, it is about strategy and style. As far as Republican voters had any problems with Trump during his presidency, it was always more about his delivery than about his policies. It is not just his style but also his strategy – Trump largely operates outside of the traditional party establishment and political system.Trump is not a politician and has no desire to become one. In sharp contrast, DeSantis is and has already significant political experience with running one of the biggest states in the country in terms of both economic power and population. Whereas Trump mainly shouts from the sidelines, respecting neither the institutions of liberal democracy nor the political practices of Washington, DeSantis practices what Princeton professor Kim Lane Scheppele calls “democratic erosion by law”: the weakening of liberal democracy from within both the legal and the political system.In this way, the turn from DeSantis to Trump mirrors developments in Europe, where crude far-right politicians like Matteo Salvini are being “upgraded” to more subtle peers like Giorgia Meloni. It is, if you will, the Orbánization of the far right. The Hungarian leader is the prime example of democratic erosion by law, having effectively destroyed democracy in Hungary by perfectly legal means. It is no coincidence that Orbán is a hero of the so-called “national conservative” wing of the Republican party – mostly politicians with law degrees, such as DeSantis and Josh Hawley.What Trump lacks in legal and political expertise, however, he compensates in charisma, something DeSantis sorely lacks. The Florida governor has gained nationwide Republican support by what he does, not by who he is. DeSantis is a rather uninspiring speaker who neither draws large crowds nor captivates smaller ones. It is his actual fights with “woke capitalism”, in the form of Disney, or “woke academia”, in the form of the University of Florida, that supporters point to. As he bragged in his victory speech on Tuesday night, “Florida is where woke goes to die.”Moreover, DeSantis lacks that unique quality of Trump, authenticity, something the former president identified in bestowing the new moniker “Ron DeSanctimonious”. And while Trump, rather uncharacteristically, seems to have dropped the nickname for now – after a barrage of criticism from rightwing media – you better believe he will return to it, or to even worse names, should he face DeSantis in a Republican primary.Poll after poll might show the divisive nature of Trump, as well as his dropping favorability among both independents and Republicans, but he was still twice as popular among Republicans before the midterms. Although this can change rapidly, particularly if Fox News would support DeSantis over Trump, Trump will continue to command a modest but highly mobilized hardcore – who could make or break Republican candidates in many races, including the presidential one.While DeSantis’s star might be rising, the Republican party remains at the mercy of Trump. The former president unleashed a revolution within the Republican party that has opened the door to people like DeSantis. Now the Florida governor and his supporters have less than two years to figure out how to continue that revolution without its original leader.
    Cas Mudde is a Guardian US columnist and the Stanley Wade Shelton UGAF professor in the school of public and international affairs at the University of Georgia
    TopicsUS midterm elections 2022OpinionUS politicsRepublicansRon DeSantisDonald TrumpcommentReuse this content More