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2022 Midterm Elections | Races to follow: Ron DeSantis vs Charlie Crist

The Florida governor’s race could be an important bell-weather for feeling within the Republican Party ahead of the 2024 presidential campaign.

MUSKEGO, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 06: Signs supporting Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels and Florida Governor Ron Desantis sit in the yard in front of a home before a visit from Michels at a nearby bar on November 6, 2022 in Muskego, Wisconsin. Michels is in a close race with incumbent Democrat Gov. Tony Evers ahead of Tuesday's general election.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott OlsonGetty

One of the most prominent candidates anywhere in the country in the midterm elections Ron DeSantis, the incumbent governor of Florida who is hotly-tipped to make a run for the presidency in 2024.

US midterm elections live online: Election Day | Latest news

DeSantis has served as governor since 2019 and remains one of the loudest voices in the Republican Party, but his challenger, Democrat Charlie Crist, landed some blows on him during last week’s televised debate.

We take a look at the state of play in the Florida governor’s race…

DeSantis remains clear favourite in polling

Florida was one of the key swing states secured by Donald Trump in his successful 2016 presidential campaign, but one of very few states where the former President increased his winning margin in 2020.

The Sunshine State appears to be increasingly Blue and polling suggests that DeSantis has around a ten-point lead ahead on Tuesday’s midterm elections. However the margin of DeSantis’ victory could be a crucial bell-weather for the state of Republican politics moving forward.

Reports surfaced this week suggesting that Trump will announce his candidacy for 2024 soon after the midterms, putting him and DeSantis in direct competition. The two men are by far the most popular candidates amongst Republican voters, but have been involved in public spats since the violent attack on the Capitol on 6 January 2021.

Most recently, Trump attended a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Friday evening in which he dismissed his likely challenger as “Ron DeSanctimonious” to the gathered crowds. Politico reported that DeSantis was specifically not invited to the event, which featured GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

One Republican consultant with knowledge of the rally organisation said: “They did not invite Ron, which I do think was stupid,” adding that it allowed the appearance of a falling out between prominent GOP figures to continue.

Crist can cause DeSantis problems in the long-term

Incumbent DeSantis went into the televised debate with a healthy lead in the polls and around $100 million of campaign funds remaining in the bank. Crist, on the other hand, had nearly exhausted his financial resources and appears destined to finish second in the midterms. However the outsider took the opportunity to challenge DeSantis on some key issues and managed to force some concessions from DeSantis.

Crist attempted to get DeSantis, a likely presidential candidate in the near future, to commit to serving the full four-year term as governor.

Why don’t you look in the eyes of the people of the state of Florida and say to them if you’re reelected, you will serve a full four-year term as governor?” Crist asked. “Yes or no?”

DeSantis refused to respond and a fairly lengthy silence followed, before moderator WPEC anchor Liz Quirantes interjected to inform watchers that the candidates had not agreed to answer each other’s questions.

Crist also attempted to draw out DeSantis on the issue of abortion, which the incumbent refused to answer directly. DeSantis was also pressed on some of his more controversial actions, like the flights he orchestrated to move migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

While DeSantis appears a near-certainty to retain the governor’s office in the midterms, his margin of victory could be illustrative of his chances in the 2024 presidential election and his resonance with Trump’s core support.