DeSantis Sheds Staff as He Aims to Reset Campaign After Weeks of Rough Polls and Missteps

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cut his presidential campaign staff by a third as part of an effort to reset his floundering presidential campaign after a series of missteps and flatlining poll numbers.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cut his presidential campaign staff by a third as part of an effort to reset his floundering presidential campaign after a series of missteps and flatlining poll numbers.

  • A total of 38 staffers were culled from the campaign’s payroll as a follow-up to the “less than 10” employees laid off earlier in July.
  • The layoffs come on the heels of a campaign fundraising disclosure that appeared to show strong fundraising, but under the hood his campaign appears to be blowing through money at an unsustainable pace.
  • As another part of his campaign reset, DeSantis plans to spend less time catering to Very Online right-wing activists and more time appealing to normal people.
  • He plans to sit down for a series of interviews in mainstream outlets and outline a policy agenda more focused on the economy than niche culture-war issues that animate the base but leave general election voters cold.
  • DeSantis is changing his strategy as his poll numbers have sunk to their lowest point since he entered the race. DeSantis now sits at 18% in the RealClearPolitics average, the first time he’s dropped below 20%, and trails former President Donald Trump by 35 points.
  • To add insult to injury, on Tuesday morning DeSantis was involved in a multi-car accident in Tennessee. Four cars in his motorcade crashed into each other after traffic slowed on I-75, a metaphor for his campaign’s struggles that, were this a movie, would have been left on the cutting-room floor for being too obvious.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Axios reported on an ominous sign for the DeSantis campaign’s future fundraising. His campaign ranks towards the bottom of all GOP presidential candidates in terms of share of small-dollar donors. Only 17.3% of the money DeSantis raised came from small-dollar donors, compared to Trump’s 81.8% and even Chris Christie’s 35.3% share.
  • The Guardian reported one of the aides let go in the staff cuts, 25-year-old former National Review writer Nate Hochman, was fired after creating and sharing an unofficial pro-DeSantis video that featured fascist and white supremacist imagery. Hochman also retweeted the bizarre pro-DeSantis video burnishing DeSantis’ anti-gay bona fides intercut with images of buff men.
  • New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait believes that Hochman’s firing indicates “Ron DeSantis’s Nazi outreach is a strategy, not an accident.” “It would be easy to understand this development as simply more campaign dysfunction, perhaps poor vetting, or even a symptom of the campaign being ‘too online,’” Chait argues. “It is better understood as the result of a fundamental strategic decision by DeSantis to actively court the far right.”



  • The Wall Street Journal reported Never Back Down, DeSantis’ allied super PAC, plans to “launch a new wave of advertising Monday that is expected to carry an uplifting message and detail his personal biography.” DeSantis plans to give an economic policy address in New Hampshire as part of a rollout of his policy platform beyond his record governing the Sunshine State.
  • Adding to his campaign’s troubles, the New York Post reported DeSantis was forced to cancel two fundraisers in the tony Hamptons last weekend due to a lack of donor interest. The donors only seemed to lack interest in DeSantis, though, as Trump and Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. both had successful fundraisers the same weekend.
  • National Review’s Jim Geraghty called the DeSantis reboot “well-timed” and “much-needed.” Among other missteps, Geraghty suspects that “the ‘culture war, culture war, culture war’ focus of DeSantis’s campaign so far is missing the mark for a bunch of Republican primary voters,” and that “instead of micro-targeting some small primary-voting demographic, candidates ought to try macro-targeting the electorate as a whole and see how that works.”


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© Dominic Moore, 2023