DeSantis is the big winner of the Jan. 6 hearings

The Jan. 6 hearings were more effective than many of us thought, and the big winner is…Ron DeSantis.

Yes, that’s my honest take after observing public opinion and shifts on the political right.

I was struck by a recent Associated Press report on Donald Trump’s first appearance since the hearings began. It described an Illinois conservative named Pam Roehl, who showed up at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference wearing a red Trump baseball cap and a “Trump 2020” necklace. According to the AP, Roehl still supports Trump but “finds himself increasingly in the minority among friends who’ve moved on, thrown away their bumper stickers and embraced DeSantis.”

That report, while anecdotal, was backed up by a new Granite State Poll showing DeSantis narrowly leads Trump among the likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire.

So what does this poll have to do with the January 6 hearings? It is worth noting that the first three hearings were held on January 6th, June 9th, 13th and 16th; The Granite State survey was conducted June 16-20.

Well, this is just a poll and it could be an outlier. But the findings back up much of the anecdotal evidence and are consistent with recent policy developments. DeSantis has an impressive track record. Meanwhile, Trump’s power in the GOP, as evidenced by his spotty confirmation record, has slowly eroded since leaving the White House.

The Jan. 6 hearings are another data point to remind Republican voters that Trump is a thing of the past. As The New York Times noted what we are witnessing is “a significant change from October, when a Granite State Poll showed Mr. Trump had support from 43 percent of likely Republican voters; Mr. DeSantis was 18 percent.”

Correlation is not the same as causation. Still, there seems to be suspicion that the Jan. 6 hearings were among the factors that contributed to Trump’s slump.

“Sarah Longwell, a Republican anti-Trump strategist, has been leading Trump supporter focus groups since Jan. 6. In her last two, neither contestant wanted Trump to run again — something that hadn’t happened before,” writes Michelle Goldberg The New York Times.

If only there was a way Republicans could keep what they like about Trump, but find someone younger, less focused on seeking personal revenge before achieving victories, and with less baggage…

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the DeSantis Effect at work. If Trump voters don’t want Trump to run, it won’t be Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Mike Pence, or the Democrats who will benefit the most — it’s Ron DeSantis.

We live in a polarized America where many of us have already chosen tribes. Democrats already hate Trump and are unlikely to be persuaded by new evidence. Likewise, Republicans (if they’re careful) won’t suddenly come to the conclusion that Trump is evil and that they should switch from the Red Hats to the Blue Team. They are unwilling to reject Trump, which would require (among other things) an admission that they were wrong to support him. Instead, a more subtle shift is taking place. They move on.

Only as recent CBS news montage shows Georgia primary voters saying how much they love Trump (before saying they will ignore his primary recommendations), some Republican voters have decided they love Trump but that DeSantis is the future of the party.

The usual caveats apply: It’s early. When it’s that far from an election, polls and pundits have a lousy track record of predicting winners. To become the GOP nominee, DeSantis must (probably) be re-elected governor of Florida this November. Then he must find a way to stop a jealous Trump from destroying him. Additionally, it’s unclear if DeSantis’ skills would lend themselves to the retail politics most nominees endure to win in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Numerous “ifs” could throw him off track by 2024.

Still, DeSantis has had a damn year or so. For those of us who see Trump as a uniquely dangerous threat to liberal democracy, this is good news.

At the same time, it’s also a sign of how obsessed Americans are with new things. We fetishize youth. We are bored.

In many ways, this behavior is not great. But when it comes to disposing of Trump, we could be thankful for modern America’s tendency towards the disposable.

There will be plenty of time to debate whether Ron DeSantis is a downgrade, an upgrade, or a sideways move for Republicans. But if you’re a supporter of his, you have the fickle nature of American voters to thank – and the January 6th Committee. DeSantis is the big winner of the Jan. 6 hearings


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