Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues to engage in an increasingly tough battle for the Republican nomination for president.
His candidacy began as a promising bid to challenge the GOP supremacy of former President Donald Trump.
Since then, DeSantis has confronted declining poll numbers and has fallen further behind the frontrunner.
And with the Republican National Convention a year or so a way, there has been little sign DeSantis is finding a way to again tighten those numbers.
DeSantis has largely run his campaign on a cultural confrontation, calling out what he refers to consistently as “woke” policies.
For example, his national prominence rose as he drew fire from Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report in 2022 for Florida’s passage of the Parental Rights in Education Act, referred to by its opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
This began an ongoing fight that has famously pitted DeSantis against Disney in court, including a dispute over Disney’s property in and around Orlando.
DeSantis has taken other controversial positions on academic policy in Florida’s public schools, including regarding how the history of race relations in the United States is taught.
The Booming Florida Economy Has One Big Problem
The Florida Governor’s campaign emphasizes how DeSantis, and a large number of his followers, believe his policies in response to the pandemic fueled a strong economy in the state compared to others.
Florida boasts unemployment numbers even lower than the 3.6% rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on July 7.
“Florida’s statewide unemployment rate, according to the most recent May numbers, was an astonishingly low 2.6%. The state also added about 38,000 new jobs from April to May,” reported the Washington Examiner on July 21. “DeSantis presided over the state’s economic success and has been using it as an example of why he should win the presidency.”
But there is one messy element to this story that is unlikely to helpful to the DeSantis campaign.
While national inflation numbers, after a sharp rise in 2021 triggered a steady pace of interest rate increases from the Fed in 2022, have moderated, Florida’s inflation remains a problem.
“The June consumer price index report showed inflation fell to a 3% annual rate, representing a decline of a whole percentage point from the preceding month. The July 13 producer price index, which measures wholesale prices, showed that inflation came in at just 0.1% for the year ending in June,” the Examiner reported.
“But in parts of Florida, it is significantly higher,” it continued. “In South Florida, which includes the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach areas, annual inflation is nearly 7% higher than a year ago. In the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, it was running at 7.3% in May on an annual basis.”
Much of Florida’s inflation rate can be attributed to high housing costs, experts say.
“Shelter inflation accounts for about a third of overall inflation and two-fifths of core (excluding food and energy costs) inflation,” Abbey Omodunbi, vice president and senior economist for the PNC Financial Services Group, said, also according to the Examiner.
It remains to be seen whether DeSantis will be able to turn his campaign for the nomination around.
“It’s an interesting dynamic. You’ve got candidates that are going to want to tout what’s happened in Florida and others somehow trying to denigrate how Florida is doing,” Sean Snaith, the director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting, told the Examiner.
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