Former president Donald Trump delivered a resounding 30-point victory in the Iowa Caucuses Monday night and, according to polls, seems likely to take New Hampshire as well. This is with the exception of one poll released Tuesday that shows Nikki Haley tied with Trump at 40 percent, but it has a sample size of only 600 voters and shows Haley winning with men and Trump winning with women. Seems unlikely.
Provided Haley is unable to ride her establishment donor wave to victory in New Hampshire, then, the race will be all Trump by South Carolina. Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s campaign proved to be a huge disappointment; as strategist Ryan Girdusky helpfully laid out in a recounting of his meetings with Team DeSantis over the past year. ABC in fact just canceled its scheduled debate for New Hampshire as DeSantis was the only one interested in participating; although Haley finished third in Iowa by a couple of points, she was not incorrect to say that it is now a two-man race.
What then will become of the crowd of terminally-online DeSantis influencers and the AFP-backed Haley campaigners? Ironically enough, although Haley is ideologically further away from Trump, her supporters might have an easier time rejoining the Trump Train if they so choose. The real acrimony seems to exist between DeSantis and Trump.
Part of this dynamic comes from the fact that the DeSantis campaign took on multiple defectors from Trump’s losing 2020 operation, such as former spokeswoman Erin Perrine and rapid response director Matt Wolking. Also at play was the apparent bitterness coming from DeSantis’s online Twitter gang — known by Trumpworld as the “DeSimps” — throughout the campaign, but especially after the governor’s decisive defeat in Iowa.
John Cardillo dramatically tweeted, “We’re no longer a conservative nation,” before, unlike many of his friends, admitting the primary is over and that Republicans ought to unite against the left.
“DeSantis did almost 10 points better than his polls. Trump underperformed,” Bill Mitchell declared.
“Alpha male @RonDeSantis outperforms RCP polling average in Iowa by over 5 points,” said Cryptid Politics, one of the DeSantis stans with an alligator emoji next to their Twitter handle.
Others breathlessly accused the media of election interference because the race was called for Trump within thirty minutes of the Caucuses starting (and while some people were still voting). It’s unclear how DeSantis might have overcome his 23,000-vote deficit without the media calling the race. But BlazeTV host Steve Deace described the media’s actions as “criminal levels of voter suppression,” while press secretary Bryan Griffin said it was “extremely disrespectful to the voters”. Campaign official Andrew Romeo said, “Absolutely outrageous that the media would participate in election interference by calling the race before tens of thousands of Iowans even had a chance to vote. The media is in the tank for Trump.”
Trump’s online gang responded by pointing out that DeSantis supporters pooh-poohed the idea that Trump faced election interference in 2020 and wanted to move on from the issue. They also mocked the idea that DeSantis had “punched his ticket” out of Iowa and wondered when DeSantis campaign workers would come crawling back to MAGA. Trumpers seem happy to accept DeSantis’s voters, but are clear that there’s still bad blood for the supposed grifters who joined his campaign.
Jack Posobiec warned that “A LOT of people deleting anti-Trump tweets right now” and promised he was “not going to forget how the DeSantis influencers acted towards everyone.”
Notorious Trump troll, Laura Loomer immediately turned her guns on Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren, saying that Lahren is “trying to protect their ‘brand’ by pretending to ‘rebrand’ themselves as MAGA and a supporter of President Trump.”
Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis argued tweets like these are proof that “they don’t want unity. They just want to silence any criticism of Trump.” But Ellis, who supported DeSantis in the primary, later tweeted a photo of herself with Vivek Ramaswamy, who has largely been considered a Trump stand-in during the GOP primary debates.
Only time will tell if the Gator Mafia can weasel their way back into Trumpworld — or if they even want to.