DeSantis’ Iowa Puzzle: The Mismanagement That Plagued His Make-or-Break Campaign

West Des Moines, Iowa – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign faced setbacks and mismanagement as he vied for a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses. Despite his efforts to win over voters in the state, DeSantis fell short to former President Donald Trump by a margin of 30 percentage points. Many of DeSantis’ supporters and former staffers pointed to a series of missteps and wasted resources that plagued his campaign from the start.

One puzzling example of mismanagement came from Scott Wagner, the head of Never Back Down, DeSantis’ allied super PAC. In the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, Wagner was found spending significant time working on a puzzle while his staff focused on campaign activities. This event symbolized the mismanagement that had plagued the campaign throughout its course.

DeSantis’ campaign faced numerous challenges, including early staff turnover and financial woes. Within the first two months, 40% of the initial hires were let go to conserve resources. The reliance on Never Back Down, which promised to spend $200 million on the campaign, proved to be a source of in-fighting and negative press.

DeSantis also faced difficulties in crafting a clear message that resonated with voters. His decision to delay announcing his run for president until months after his re-election as Florida governor cost him valuable momentum. The lack of a coherent message was a recurring theme throughout his campaign.

Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin’s decision to withdraw his support from DeSantis due to the campaign’s heavy focus on culture war issues served as a signal to others. This loss of donor support further compounded the campaign’s financial struggles.

DeSantis’ campaign also faced scrutiny for its use of the Never Back Down super PAC to fund campaign activities. The complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission, alleging illegal coordination between the super PAC and the campaign.

Despite extensive door-knocking efforts and a ground game that included 1,500 precinct captains, DeSantis failed to win over Trump voters in Iowa. The campaign’s heavy focus on rural voters and its lack of a local grassroots feel may have contributed to this setback.

As DeSantis pressed forward in the race, his chances at the nomination dwindled. His polling numbers were low in New Hampshire, and Trump held a commanding lead in South Carolina. DeSantis’ best path forward now lies in blocking Nikki Haley’s success in New Hampshire and positioning himself as the leading alternative to Trump.

In conclusion, DeSantis’ presidential campaign in Iowa faced mismanagement, financial struggles, and a lack of clear messaging. These challenges, coupled with a strong showing from Donald Trump, hindered DeSantis’ ability to gain traction in the race. Despite his efforts to position himself as a viable alternative to Trump, DeSantis now faces an unlikely path forward in his presidential bid.