Between him and Elon Musk, this makes two famous red-pilled liberals who are ready for DeSantis 2024.

All that’s left is for Bill Maher to declare his support and we’ll have the trifecta.

I repeat what I said after Musk’s praise for DeSantis: Endorsements like this do matter. Not only do figures like him and Rogan influence waaaaaay more people than the local newspaper’s editorial page, they’re of particular value to DeSantis’s core campaign pitch. He’s going to make the case to Republicans that he can expand the tent in ways Trump never can. Exhibit A will be his margin of victory in Florida this fall, assuming that margin ends up being comfortable. Exhibit B is celebrity Democratic voters like Rogan expressing interest in his candidacy. If you’re trying to convince Trump voters that you’re more electable than their hero, what better evidence is there than having some of the few liberals whom those voters respect proclaim themselves DeSantis fans?

Rogan is correct that DeSantis will run primarily having minimized COVID restrictions in Florida. It’s become his calling card as governor, so much so that he might even use it against Trump in a primary. His record of keeping schools open in the fall of 2020 will be especially potent in a general election, as Glenn Youngkin already proved in Virginia how receptive swing voters are to candidates who are eager to keep kids in class. As the evidence of learning loss and mental-health fallout from shuttered schools mounts, the advantage Republicans — particularly DeSantis — enjoy over Democrats will rise with it. Two professors recently published an analysis in The Atlantic starkly titled, “The Biggest Disruption in the History of American Education.”

Lost schooling shows up as “unfinished” academic learning, measured according to standardized test scores. Even in schools that closed only in spring 2020 and reopened more or less on time the following fall, students a full year later were about two months behind academically where they would have normally been. And when schools stayed closed longer, students fell even further behind, with the poorest students losing out the most. High-poverty schools faced the greatest obstacles to effective online education—including sometimes having trouble making any contact with students at all. Students in high-poverty schools that remained physically closed for the majority of the 2020–21 school year fell more than a full semester behind as measured by standardized tests administered nationwide…

Shutting children out of schools (especially when Zoom school meant no school) put intense pressure on their emotional well-being. A CDC survey of high-school students from January to June 2021 found that nearly half had “felt persistently sad or hopeless” over the previous year—a 20 percent jump since 2019—and an astonishing one-fifth had “seriously considered attempting suicide,” representing a smaller but still concerning 5 percent increase over pre-pandemic levels. These average rates were even worse for girls, who also had higher rates of emergency-room visits and suicide attempts. Adolescents also reported skyrocketing rates of emotional and physical abuse at home during the pandemic. According to one study, teenagers’ self-reported rates of parental emotional abuse were four times higher during the pandemic than in 2013, and rates of parental physical abuse nearly doubled. Figures such as these have led the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association to declare a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

For many students, remote learning meant no learning at all. The authors cite one survey of teachers estimating that a quarter of kids ended the spring 2020 semester truant, not reporting to class in person or virtually. They also estimate that, as of summer last year, the average public-school student had experienced 65 school days since the start of the pandemic during which they had no contact whatsoever with teachers or school staff.

How do you think those facts would shake out electorally in a race between DeSantis and, say, Gavin Newsom, whose state kept public schools closed for month after grinding month?

A new poll today shows that DeSantis continues to gain on Trump in a 2024 primary — albeit slowly. I don’t know what’s going on in New Hampshire, a famously “mavericky” state, but across America Republicans still favor Trump as their next nominee. Just less strongly than they used to. In May, 60 percent of Republicans thought Trump should continue to play a major role in the party. Today, 51 percent do. Result:

Nothing is more typical of the Trump-era GOP than Mike Pence *losing* support after the January 6 hearings reminded everyone that he risked his life to defend the peaceful transfer of power. “He shouldn’t have transferred power!”

DeSantis’s number may look paltry there compared to Trump’s but if he continues to gain while Trump’s base remains flat then the long-term prognosis for the Great MAGA King is poor. DeSantis will have many opportunities over the next year to impress Republican voters — new culture-war policy initiatives, new feuds with the media, and probably a big reelection win this fall. Trump news will be mainly negative by contrast. He’ll get some attention when he announces his candidacy but most of the headlines about him will involve January 6 revelations and/or criminal prosecution by the DOJ and Georgia. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that DeSantis rose six points in just the last few weeks as the January 6 committee produced more evidence on Trump’s effort to overturn the election.

Any Republican who’s sick of the drama will have ample reason to switch to the new guy by next summer. And the new guy knows it.

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