Asked why he's getting crushed in the polls during his trip to Japan, DeSantis suggests his backsliding against Trump could change 'if and when' he makes his presidential run official

Asked why he's getting crushed in the polls during his trip to Japan, DeSantis suggests his backsliding against Trump could change 'if and when' he makes his presidential run official
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks alongside Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts during the foundation's 50th Anniversary Leadership Summit at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on April 21, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • DeSantis is on a world tour as Florida lawmakers wrap up their session.
  • He has been slipping in the polls when compared to Trump.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida brushed off a question Monday about how he's been slipping in 2024 polls against former President Trump.

"I'm not a candidate, so we'll see if and when that changes," DeSantis, who is in Japan, said to the polling question, which came from a reporter at the Wall Street Journal.

DeSantis has been a favorite among GOP primary voters for months, particularly after winning reelection by a blowout during the midterms.

But he has quickly shown some vulnerability. In December, he had a 14-point advantage in a Wall Street Journal poll. Today, he a 13-point deficit. Most recent polling shows Trump bests DeSantis 51% to 38% among GOP primary voters.

On top of that, last week numerous members of the Florida delegation came out to endorse Trump for president, just as DeSantis visted Washington, DC, where he previously served in the US House.

Though DeSantis has been slipping in the polls, he still is the only candidate who consistently comes in second to Trump in a hypothetical matchup.


Besides Trump, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley have announced they're running for president. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has also launched an exploratory committee, and former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce a decision about running in the coming weeks.

The governor is spending this week abroad on an international trade mission that will also take him to South Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom. The trip will give him an opportunity to expand his foreign policy chops — which are typically a smaller part of a governor's portfolio.

On Monday, DeSantis met with the Japanese prime minister. "I think Japan's been a heck of an ally for our country, and I think a strong Japan is good for America, and I think a strong America is good for Japan," he told reporters on the trip.

Back in Florida, the legislature is writing the state budget and closing out two more weeks of lawmaking session.

DeSantis is expected to make a presidential run official once the session is over, giving him fresh accomplishments to boast about in a primary.


But the timing may hurt DeSantis, too. The Associated press reported this week that allies fear he's waiting too long to declare a run. Trump has benefited from a "rally-around" effect by the GOP during his indictment, and Trump's relentless attacks on DeSantis also appear to be affecting the governor's image with voters.

A Trump aligned super PAC has seized on rumors that DeSantis is a compulsive eater with poor table manners, and Trump has attacked DeSantis over his past support for cutting Medicare and Social Security when he was in Congress.

Elsewhere, some top donors are worried that DeSantis has gone too far right with supporting a nearly all-out ban on abortion and the removal of books from public schools. His feud with Walt Disney World, in which he has been working to strip the company of its special tax status, has been criticized by Republicans who are more friendly toward large corporations.

DeSantis' tactics on Trump may also be a factor in why the governor is slipping in the polls. In the last month he went from taking aim at Trump passive aggressively to attacking him more directly.

"I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair," DeSantis said in late March as Trump faced an indictment.