Written by Hudson Crozier
What’s happening: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is making big changes to his presidential campaign as he struggles to gain on former President Donald Trump in the polls. He now sits right above 20 percent support among GOP primary voters against Trump’s 53 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.
Cutting costs: The DeSantis campaign spent $7.9 million in its first six weeks, around 40 percent of the total funds it had raised. DeSantis has begun laying off campaign workers in response. His team also sent a memo to donors arguing that Trump’s support will fluctuate in the coming months.
More media exposure: Venturing beyond conservative media, DeSantis appeared on CNN for an interview about his campaign this week. His team is also algorithmically testing thousands of ads on Facebook and other platforms to expand social media exposure.
Shift in messaging: On the policy side of things, DeSantis will focus more on clarifying his stances on economic and foreign policy than on cultural issues. The team will also spotlight his character. The donor memo states, “We've found that when voters hear about the Governor's bio principally as a Dad and as a veteran — they like him and are open to hearing more about him.”
What’s staying the same: DeSantis is still heavily courting religious voters, attacking Trump, refusing to give up on New Hampshire, and making a large bet on the Iowa caucus — that last point being the most risky, as we explained on Sunday. An anonymous DeSantis operative told NBC News that if there’s no “bump in the polls” soon, the campaign will likely put everything it has into primary states and abandon its “national operation.” The Trump campaign, meanwhile, boasts that DeSantis’s presidential run is “on life support.”