“Ron DeSantis’ campaign is on life support,” veteran New Hampshire GOP strategist Mike Dennehy said in response to the poll. “He has a chance of resuscitation and that is the debate for next week.”
DeSantis finished fifth in the poll, behind Ramaswamy with 13 percent, Haley with 12 percent and Christie with 11 percent. But because of the poll’s margin of error, the candidates are statistically in a four-way tie for second place.
The Florida governor’s drop in the polls in New Hampshire comes as he hasn’t stepped foot in the state’s first primary in a month. While campaigning in Iowa and fundraising in Texas, he has been leaving his surrogates and supporters in New Hampshire to recover.
“He needs to get on his ass in New Hampshire,” said one DeSantis supporter in New Hampshire, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the situation. “It’s absolutely ridiculous that he’s not here.”
The bad news for DeSantis isn’t limited to New Hampshire. It’s everywhere. He finished third behind Haley in a new Fox Business poll from his home state of South Carolina. And in another poll released Wednesday, a Fox Business poll of Iowa caucus attendees, he’s narrowly ahead of the former UN ambassador. Trump is crushing them both, with 46 percent support in each poll.
But his absence from New Hampshire has been particularly puzzling to the state’s political supporters and observers. DeSantis’ next scheduled event in New Hampshire is a cattle call in mid-October hosted by the state Republican Party. His campaign said it plans a broader campaign around the state to coincide with the New Hampshire GOP “leadership summit.”
“Ron DeSantis has maintained the most aggressive campaign schedule of anyone in the field, and we’re excited to be back in New Hampshire soon,” said DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo.
Although DeSantis enjoyed high interest among Republican activists before entering the presidential race, he has since struggled to sell his brand of culture war conservatism to the broader New Hampshire electorate. a libertarian-leaning state where independents, who are more moderate, make up the largest share of voters and are poised to play a major role in next year’s open primaries.
The governor of Florida she stumbled out the door in New Hampshirewho were drawn into an endorsement battle with Trump, refused to answer questions from voters (town halls are a campaign staple in the Granite State) and angered a prominent group of Republican women by counter-scheduling a major fundraiser. Trump was the featured speaker.
DeSantis turned some heads in his direction with his summer reboot, during which he showed Granite Staters a candidate more willing to answer questions and tangle with Trump. But then he got sidetracked when Hurricane Idalia hit his home state and hasn’t been back to New Hampshire since.
With neither DeSantis nor Trump around, the lowest-polling candidates — Ramaswamy, Haley, Christie and Scott — have had the state to themselves. Ramaswamy and Haley in particular have done this worked to capitalize on growing interest in his two campaigns after the first debate. And it’s starting to pay off: While the CNN/UNH poll of 845 likely GOP primary voters conducted Sept. 14-18 had DeSantis’ worst showing in public polls yet of the Granite State, was Haley’s best, according to RCP. . The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
DeSantis’ campaign in New Hampshire “has been spotty at best,” said Matthew Bartlett, a New Hampshire native and GOP strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns and is not affiliated with this one. “There hasn’t been enough emphasis on holding town hall events, several a day, day after day, where you open the doors to the public, clearly and effectively define your vision for the country, and then do all the questions under the sun.”
Sally Goldenberg contributed to this report.