Fox News Host Confronts Ron DeSantis on 3rd Place Position in Iowa Poll


On the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, Republican presidential hopeful Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is downplaying concerns about his position in the state’s polls compared to his Republican rivals.

A Des Moines Register, NBC News and Mediacom Iowa Poll released Saturday night has DeSantis in third place and polling at just 16 percent among registered Iowa voters. The Florida governor lags behind front-runner Donald Trump, polling at 48 percent, and second-place Nikki Haley at 20 percent.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Shannon Bream cited the Iowa poll and asked DeSantis where he needs to finish in the caucus to “consider this a success” and remain “viable.”

The Florida Republican responded by saying his supporters are “rolling their eyes” at the latest polls out of Iowa. He pointed to the sub-zero weather conditions currently slamming the state as another reason that his camp doesn’t trust the polling.

“We’re going to do well on Monday. We’ve got a large number of Iowans committed to caucus for us. They just roll their eyes at these polls. I don’t know how in the world you can poll a caucus, much less a caucus in negative 20 (degrees). Good luck doing that,” DeSantis told Bream.

A volunteer for Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis picks up signs following a campaign event at The Grass Wagon on January 13, 2024 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Iowa voters are preparing for the Republican Party of Iowa’s presidential caucuses on January 15th.
AFP/Getty Images

Newsweek reached out to the DeSantis campaign via email for additional comments.

DeSantis pointed to the commitment of his supporters on the ground amid the blizzard conditions, which are forecast to blast the Hawkeye State into Monday. The National Weather Service said an “arctic cold” could drop temperatures to negative 15 degrees in some parts of Iowa before the caucuses begin at 7 p.m.

“We’ve got the energy, we’re in all 99 counties and we’ve got the organization. Typically, when you do those things, you’re going to do well in a caucus, especially in these conditions,” DeSantis told Bream. “People are going to have every excuse in the world to say, ‘I’m not going.’ But our folks are motivated. What’s on the ground is special, and we’re going to bring it all the way in for Monday.”

Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung emailed a statement to Newsweek on Saturday night, urging supporters to show up on Monday.

“Our grassroots supporters have put us in position to win, and now we have to show up to Caucus for President Trump on Monday and get the job done,” the statement reads. “We have to show up.”

Meanwhile, Haley’s support appears to be on “shaky ground,” the Des Moines Register reported. J. Ann Selzer, president of polling form Selzer & Company, told the Register the latest Iowa Poll shows Haley’s supporters appear unenthusiastic about their choice for president, which could mean they’re less likely to venture out in the frigid conditions.

About 49 percent of voters who plan to caucus for Haley say they are only “mildly enthusiastic” and 12 percent are “not that enthusiastic,” the poll shows.

In the Sunday interview, Bream pressed DeSantis further, asking: “Do you need to finish second here in Iowa?”

“We’re going to do well,” DeSantis responded, arguing that he does better as “an underdog.” The GOP hopeful then quickly pivoted to upcoming primaries in New Hampshire (January 23) and South Carolina (February 3). According to recent Real Clear Politics polling, DeSantis trails Trump and Haley in those early states, as well.

He also pointed to the fact that Haley isn’t competing in Nevada’s caucuses, run by the Nevada Republican Party. For the first time, the state will hold both a government-run primary election on Feb. 6 and a caucus two days later. Haley, the only major GOP candidate signed up for the primary ballot, will likely win but then receive zero delegates from Nevada.

Trump is predicted to win the Nevada Republican Presidential Caucus, according to a January 9 Emerson poll.

“I’ve got appearances planned in both South Carolina and New Hampshire on Tuesday,” DeSantis said. “We’re going to do well. I appreciate being the underdog, and we look forward to going to the next contest. New Hampshire has 20 delegates. Iowa has 40. South Carolina is a big deal. Nevada has a caucus, and Nikki Haley’s not even participating. The name of the game is to compete for delegates.”