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A really bad night for some high-profile Trump-backed candidates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a clear message to every Republican voter Tuesday night: My way is the path to a national majority, and former President Donald Trump’s way is the path to future disappointments and continued suffering.

Four years ago, DeSantis  won his first gubernatorial race by less than a percentage point. His nearly 20-point win against Democratic candidate Charlie Crist on Tuesday sent the message that DeSantis, not Trump, can win over the independent voters who decide elections.

win over the independent voters who decide elections.

DeSantis’ decisive victory offers a future where the Republican Party might actually win the popular vote in a presidential contest – something that hasn’t been done since George W. Bush in 2004.

Meanwhile, many of the candidates Trump endorsed in 2022 struggled, and it was clear from CNN exit polls that the former President – with his 37%.

the heavily Latino Miami-Dade County by seven points. DeSantis flipped the county on Tuesday and ran away with an 11-point win.

In 2020, Biden won Osceola County by nearly 14 points. This time, DeSantis secured the county by nearly seven points, marking a whopping 21-point swing.

DeSantis combined his strength among Latinos with his support among working class Whites, suburban white-collar voters and rural Floridians. That’s a coalition that could win nationally, unlike Trump’s limited appeal among several traditional Republican voting segments.

Last year, it was Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin of Virginia who scored an earthquake in a Biden state by keeping Trump at arm’s length and focusing on the issues. Tonight, it was DeSantis who ran as his own man (Trump for Marco Rubio but not DeSantis at the end of the campaign) and showed what you can do when you combine the political instincts required to be a successful Republican these days with actual governing competence.

DeSantis made a convincing case that he, rather than Trump, gives Republicans the best chance to defeat Biden (or some other Democrat) in 2024. With Trump plotting a reelection campaign announcement soon, DeSantis has a lot to think about and a solid springboard from which to launch a challenge to the former President.

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