Ron DeSantis got the popular Iowa governor’s endorsement. But does it really matter?

Landing Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ endorsement was the first bit of good news for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seemingly in forever.

Suddenly, the narrative surrounding his campaign wasn’t about his lagging fundraising or weak polling — or his rival Nikki Haley’s rise.

Instead, as DeSantis joined Reynolds in front of crowds of supporters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, he looked like a candidate still very much in this race. He was, Reynolds said, someone who “gets things done.” She called the Florida governor “one of the most effective leaders that I have ever seen.”

The lasting impact of the endorsement is doubtful, of course. Endorsements can matter in presidential races. Just look at what Rep. James Clyburn’s backing did for now-President Joe Biden ahead of the South Carolina primary he rode to the nomination in 2020.

But the problem for DeSantis is that the frontrunner in the GOP primary isn’t some Republican equivalent of a Pete Buttigieg or, even, Sen. Bernie Sanders.

It’s Donald Trump.

And as much as Iowa Republicans may like Reynolds, they like the former president a lot, too. A Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll last week showed Trump running ahead of DeSantis and Haley, the former South Carolina governor, by 27 percentage points.

Where a Reynolds endorsement could truly matter for DeSantis is in the race for second place. In the Iowa poll, he was tied with Haley at 16 percent. DeSantis is banking it all on Iowa, having shifted staff and resources there. He needs to emerge as the leading alternative to Trump. The lift Reynolds can provide DeSantis may just be by making it close.

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is introduced by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at a campaign stop at Machine Shed in Davenport, Iowa, on Nov. 7, 2023, after Reynolds endorsed him the night before.Sherrie Wilson (left), 68, and her husband Ken, 69, both DeSantis supporters. Russell Connor, 50, leaning Trump. As DeSantis joined Reynolds in front of a crowd of supporters in Des Moines on Monday night, he looked like a candidate still very much in this race.Crowds lined up outside Machine Shed in Davenport on Nov. 7 to hear Reynolds and DeSantis speak.Rowdy Templer, 71, Trump supporter. “I really don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference. The people that support President Trump, for instance, are just absolutely there for President Trump.Phyllis Suttek (left) and Sharon Omvig, DeSantis supporters. Matt Wells, 43, DeSantis supporter. People filled the room as DeSantis spoke in Davenport on Nov. 7.DeSantis needs to emerge as the leading alternative to Trump. The lift Reynolds can provide DeSantis may just be by making it close.Jeanne Sodawasser (left), 40, and her daughter Atalyssa, 16. Jeanne is a DeSantis supporter. Ann Hanson, 67, DeSantis supporter. DeSantis and Reynolds wave on stage after she endorsed him for president at a rally in Des Moines on Nov. 6.

David Siders contributed to this report.

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