DeSantis and Allies Spent Over $7,000 Per Vote on Failed Presidential Bid

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DeSantis and Allies Spent Over $7,000 Per Vote on Failed Presidential Bid

The Florida Governor and his fundraising machine dropped nearly $170 million on a humiliating campaign that fizzled out after the first primary

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies spent nearly $170 million for him to get utterly humiliated in his bid for the 2024 Republican nomination. 

According to newly released Federal Election Commission filings, Never Back Down, the primary super PAC backing DeSantis, had spent $131 million backing his campaign by the end of 2023. His campaign had spent $28 million by that time.   

DeSantis withdrew from the race earlier this month following a campaign-ending second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, almost 30 points behind former President Donald Trump. Rolling Stone reviewed the latest election filings from the DeSantis campaign, Never Back Down, and another super PAC called Fight Right. 

Together, the committees spent $168 million supporting DeSantis’ failed bid — or a whopping $7,169 per vote. 

The Florida governor entered the race with deep coffers and widespread popularity amongst culture-war-minded conservatives who viewed DeSantis as a model for effective GOP governance. That enthusiasm melted away as it became clear that DeSantis lacked the skills required of a presidential candidate, and that the massive spending boosting him was not moving the needle. 

Never Back Down ran one of the most expensive door-to-door grassroots operations in recent memory — but made few tangible gains among voters in its eight-month existence. Instead, Never Back Down was plagued by rumors of infighting (and physical fighting), concerns from DeSantis and his advisory team that the PAC was ineffective, and widespread donor backlash over the campaign’s strategy.  

Two months after declaring his candidacy in a disastrous Twitter Spaces event, DeSantis fired several staff members in order to cut costs after the campaign burned through $7.9 million in just six weeks, and having inadvertently maxed out the legal amount they were able to accept from major donors. As the campaign struggled to meet its fundraising goals, it became more and more dependent on Never Back Down to keep the ship afloat. 

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The S.S. DeSantis ultimately sank off the shores of New Hampshire. Days before the second primary of the 2024 election cycle was scheduled to take place, the Florida governor announced he would be suspending his campaign. 

Despite the endless stream of vitriol and strategic attacks leveled against him by Trump and his campaign, DeSantis’ first act as a 2024 dropout was to endorse the former president. Given the damage DeSantis has done to his image and reputation in his failed bid for the nomination, groveling to get back into Trump’s good graces seems like the first step towards salvaging any future plans to win the White House. 

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