Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is betting his campaign on an all-or-nothing bid in Iowa, as he is moving a third of his campaign staff to the Hawkeye state while he has around $5 million in available primary funds in his war chest, according to a New York Times report.
The move marks a pivotal moment for DeSantis, as Iowa is the first Republican-voting state in the nation, and its caucus next January represents one of only a few opportunities to reverse narratives surrounding his campaign, given his collapse in the polls since the spring.
During that time, frontrunner former President Donald Trump has been indicted four times and coalesced a majority of support regularly reflected in national polls.
Staking it all on Iowa appears to be a daunting endeavor for the DeSantis campaign, considering Trump is above 49 percent of support in the RealClearPolitics (RCP) polling average of the Hawkeye State as of this writing and reached 51 percent in a CBS News poll conducted a few weeks ago.
DeSantis sits some 33 points behind Trump in Iowa in the RCP polling average with 16 percent of support, and he is significantly closer to the rest of the pack than he is to the 45th president.
“If he’s all in for Iowa, then why hasn’t Rob DeSanctimonious been in three weeks?” Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told the Times. “This isn’t something he can afford to do since he’s trailing by more than 30 points.”
DeSantis’s campaign is also low on cash, while Trump’s campaign outpaced his weakened rival in third-quarter fundraising at a three-to-one rate, according to the Times. Trump raked in $45.5 million in the third fundraising quarter to DeSantis’s $15 million, sources from the respective camps told the outlet.
The Florida governor began October with roughly $13.5 million, but only a fraction of that can be used on the primary, per the Times’s Nicholas Nehamas, Jonathan Swan, and Shane Goldmacher:
Aides acknowledged that only $5 million of the $13.5 million was eligible to spend in the primary season, meaning that money remains tight for a campaign that has yet to air any television ads. The strapped campaign has left advertising, and most other campaign operations, to a well-funded outside group.
Conversely, rivals such as Trump and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have already launched TV advertisement blitzes through their campaigns. For example, Ramaswamy unveiled his “Identity Crisis” ad in late March in a multimillion-dollar buy in Iowa and New Hampshire, while the Trump campaign aired a blistering ad in August bashing prosecutors who are pursuing criminal charges against him as the “Fraud Squad.”
The DeSantis cash crunch follows his campaign’s July layoffs, as 38 staffers were reportedly let go because of DeSantis’s poor performance to that point in the race as the campaign engaged in a reset, which Breitbart News noted. Federal Filings showed he had 90 staffers on the payroll in June. Currently, the campaign remains lean, with 56 people working for it, per the Times.