A recent New York Times/Siena College poll confirmed what has become increasingly clear: Donald Trump has no real competition in the Republican presidential field. Despite all his legal troubles, including a federal indictment for attempting to subvert American democracy, the former president was 37 points ahead of his main rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, among likely Republican primary voters. Trump overwhelmingly outperformed the other GOP candidates with virtually every demographic.
The poll also indicates that DeSantis’ war-on-wokeness campaign strategy is a flop. The Florida governor has made the culture wars a central tenet of his presidential bid, from picking a losing fight with Disney to his incessant attacks on public education. “Florida is where woke goes to die,” he likes to say. It turns out that his obsession with wokeness could also be what kills his campaign.
According to the Times/Siena poll, only 24 percent of national Republican voters chose “a candidate who focuses on defeating radical ‘woke’ ideology in our schools, media and culture” over “a candidate who focuses on restoring law and order in our streets and at the border.” Sixty-five percent of voters and 59 percent of those who are “very conservative” favored a candidate running on law and order. In another scenario, voters were given a choice between a candidate who vows to fight corporations that promote “woke” left ideology and another who says the government shouldn’t interfere with what corporations can support. Fifty-two percent opted for the latter candidate.
DeSantis isn’t alone among GOP 2024 hopefuls in blasting wokeness as they raise the spectre of progressives undermining American culture and values. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) once said “woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy.” When asked to define “woke,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley resorted to anti-trans rhetoric and mentioned “biological boys playing in girls sports.” Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who authored Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam, has called “wokeness” a “cultural cancer.” A recent fundraising email for his campaign had “Wokeness killing the American Dream” as the subject line.
But even the “C.E.O. of Anti-Woke, Inc.” seems to be moving on. Speaking to the New York Times, Ramaswamy said his campaign stickers that read “Stop Wokeism. Vote Vivek” have been replaced with “Truth” swag. The issue, he said, “it’s in my rearview mirror.”