May 29, 2023 5:12 am

Will these Trump voters back DeSantis this time?

Governor Ron DeSantis is gunning to be the Republican to take on Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election – but can he convince his own party to turn away from Donald Trump?

The BBC asked Americans who had voted for Mr Trump in the past what they think about his most high-profile rival so far.

Although the former president remains the clear frontrunner, most of our voter panel had concerns about Mr Trump’s chances in a rematch against Joe Biden.

And many see the Florida governor as an attractive alternative.

Mikes Bales

Mike Bales is an evangelical Christian and conservative Republican who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.

I definitely think Trump should be worried about DeSantis. He stacks up very well against other Republicans because he showed very strong leadership during the pandemic and led the charge to get through it as opposed to Democratic states like New York and California where it was a disaster.

I love that he will speak the truth no matter how popular or unpopular it is, and he speaks against the destructive woke agenda.

I’ve been following the Disney feud. Good for Governor DeSantis for signing that Parental Rights in Education Bill [dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics] into law because society is trying so hard to sexualise children and take their innocence.

Rom Solene

Rom says Donald Trump’s ability to shake up the establishment still makes him the standout candidate.

I think Governor DeSantis would make a great leader. What I like about him is he is principled and sticks to his touted beliefs. But I won’t vote for him in the primary unless Mr Trump, for some reason, drops out of the race.

I believe Mr Trump does recognise that Governor DeSantis is his closest rival and that is why he has taken some shots at the governor in public.

I’ve been following the Disney feud and I believe that while Governor DeSantis had a valid reason to lock horns with Disney initially, he should have disengaged from that feud long ago after he made his point. I think it’s gone on for far too long and may, in the long haul, prove detrimental to the governor and the state of Florida.

Kathleen McClellan

Kathleen, a strong anti-abortion voter, backed Trump twice. Now she’s ready to move on.

I have nothing against Donald Trump, but I think it’s time to move forward. Donald Trump seems like he’s got all his cognitive abilities, and I’m not concerned about him being old, but I think we could use someone a little bit younger and who doesn’t have all the drama going on.

I would vote for DeSantis in the primary – you have to go with someone who will win. I just appreciate the values he stands up for. I appreciate him standing firm with Disney. I don’t live in Florida, but I do have family there.

Sheri Strain

Sheri was a Republican who voted for Trump twice before turning against him over his claims of election fraud in 2020. She is now a registered Independent.

I think DeSantis has done a stellar job in Florida and has proven to be a great leader as seen during the pandemic. I live in California where Governor Newsom is just the polar opposite.

I love DeSantis’s educational background – Yale undergrad and Harvard Law, you can’t beat that. He is certainly qualified – and has military service, too. I believe Trump should be worried – all my friends now like DeSantis.

The only thing that worries me is that DeSantis is moving too conservative regarding abortion rights to get the independent vote. Florida recently went from a 15-week abortion ban to just six weeks – that will lose a lot of independent women voters right there.

Jim Sullivan

Jim voted for Trump twice, but with little enthusiasm last time. He’s not convinced by DeSantis yet.

DeSantis is one of the few Republicans in the field who can lock horns with Trump, not kowtow to him and survive politically in GOP politics. He’s been the governor of a major US state and guided it through both a pandemic and also major natural disasters. He’s competent.

I think as Trump continues to get mired down by lawsuits, DeSantis will emerge as the head of the pack and may manage to build the winning coalition between the Trump populists and some more mainstream Republicans – but it’s way too early to say.

I think the feud hurts both Disney and Florida, but actually helps DeSantis. He wants those anti-woke voters. Disney and Florida are just collateral damage for him as he strives to get the presidency, in my opinion.

That is exactly my big concern with him – he’s increasingly looking like a typical politician to me.

Brooke Riske

Brooke voted for the Libertarian candidate in 2016, then turned to Trump at the last election.

I don’t know yet who would get my vote in the primary election. I maintain a few concerns about all candidates, including DeSantis, so I will be listening and watching the candidates closely.

I think DeSantis has a greater appeal than Trump and can attract the middle of the road swing voters that Trump hasn’t been able to reach. I am interested to hear how DeSantis will differentiate himself from Trump during the primary and debates.

I find the Disney corporation similar to Bud Light, Target, etc. They prioritise far-left cultural values and fail to read the room of the majority of their customers. Those decisions have financial consequences, which they seemingly are willing to accept. DeSantis is leading a charge that a lot of people support.

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