Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

The original sign saying that wasn't in Iowa, but it applies in the Hawkeye State, nonetheless. Most of the time, teams competing in the Super Bowl or the World Series don't say: "We're not going to win, but we think we can come in as a strong second. We'll be satisfied with that." Ditto politics.

But Ron DeSantis is not your garden-variety politician. His campaign spokesman said this weekend that a "strong second-place showing" in Iowa would be fine and dandy. In other words, they are admitting that they can't win Iowa even though the Governor is blitzing the state—again.

Could DeSantis win the nomination by coming in second everywhere? Probably not, because many of the Republican primaries are winner-take-all. There are no booby prizes, even if the prizes are sometimes won by boobs. Not to mention that talking about coming in second will be demoralizing to big donors, who like to come in first, not second. For a campaign that has been flailing for months, it is a serious admission of defeat. Confident campaigns don't announce that coming in second is fine with them.

DeSantis isn't the only one who is pessimistic about his chances. Kim Reynolds has refused to endorse anyone—until she gets a better feel for who is going to win. Her endorsement could help DeSantis, but does not appear to be forthcoming. She probably also thinks he will come in second. Doug Gross, chief of staff for former Iowa governor Terry Branstad, said: "DeSantis is fading fast, and people are looking for an alternative right now. There's still a majority of folks looking for someone else, but it's not going to be DeSantis." If this keeps up, soon DeSantis will be saying that a third-place finish would be excellent. (V)

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