DeSantis claims Biden would beat Trump. The voters he is wooing disagree

Florida Governor and Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ron DeSantis attends a barbecue hosted by former diplomat Scott Brown, as part of his “No B.S. Backyard BBQ” series, in Rye, New Hampshire, U.S. July 30, 2023. 

Reba Saldanha | Reuters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he does not believe Donald Trump can beat President Joe Biden in a general election — but many Republican voters don’t agree, according to the latest national polls in the GOP primary race.

“I beat Biden in Georgia, Trump doesn’t. I beat Biden soundly in Arizona, Trump doesn’t,” DeSantis said of Trump in a Fox News interview. “Those are just the realities.”

The remarks came hours after a new poll from The New York Times and Siena College found Trump running roughshod over the rest of the Republican field.

Trump leads 54% to DeSantis’ 17%, a 37-point gap, among the likely Republican primary electorate, according to the survey. No other GOP candidate scored above 3% in the poll, which was conducted from July 23 to July 27 and has a margin of error of 3.96 percentage points.

The likely Republican primary voters also told the pollsters that they considered Trump to be more electable against Biden than DeSantis. Asked whether the phrase “Able to beat Joe Biden” better described Trump or DeSantis 58% of those respondents picked the former president, versus 28% who chose the governor.

But DeSantis in Monday’s interview maintained that he, not Trump, was the better bet to take on the Democratic incumbent.

Fox’s Bret Baier asked DeSantis, “You don’t believe that former President Trump could win a general election against Joe Biden?”

DeSantis replied, “I don’t think so, because I think that there’s too many voters who just aren’t going to vote for him going forward.”

He also argued that Trump would be unable to find enough capable people to work for him to be politically effective.

“If you want to slay this administrative state, you gotta be disciplined, you gotta be focused, and you gotta have people surrounding you that are going to go and support the mission,” DeSantis said. “I think the former president would have a very difficult time getting the type of personnel to join the administration that you would need to actually bring this stuff to fruition.”

DeSantis’ latest remarks came days after NBC News reported that his two-month-old campaign has fired more than 40% of its original staff as it struggles to close the gap with Trump. The campaign revamp has come amid reported concerns about its fundraising operation, with some top donors looking elsewhere in the primary for an alternative to Trump.

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