Ron DeSantis and the history of presidential primary comebacks.
I want to take a walk through history to illustrate the fact that presidential primary comebacks happen. And then to explain why I think a DeSantis comeback is not the most likely outcome.
Let’s start with a level-set. Here’s where the race stands today:
Yes, it’s early. There’s a lot of campaign left. There are known-unknowns lurking in the offices of various prosecutors. These are national polls. There are actuarial tables. But still: Not great for DeSantis.
Trump is over 50 percent.
DeSantis already got his first look.
And his support is waning.
Here’s the thing: Usually when a candidate in a divided field is over the 50 percent mark, is growing, and has a 37-point lead, they win.
Around this time in 2003, Joe Lieberman(!) led the Democratic field. He faded and Howard Dean eventually emerged as the clear frontrunner, with support in the 30s in a large field.
We all know what happened: John Kerry surged in Iowa, parlayed that into a win in New Hampshire, and then ran the table.
The dynamics of the 2004 race were quite different from 2024. Dean was the