DeSantis Backer Tries To Handwave Away Trump’s Enormous Polling Advantage In Iowa: ‘I Don’t Believe Them’

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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Iowa Evangelical leader and key backer of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid Bob Vander Plaats dismissed former President Donald Trump’s massive lead in Iowa just a month out from caucus day in an interview with The Washington Post released Friday.

Vander Plaats, the president of The Family Leader in Iowa, endorsed DeSantis in November after Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds threw her support behind the governor earlier that month. When pressed by The Post over Trump’s 30-point advantage in the key early state, Vander Plaats said he doesn’t believe the polls, and argued “there’s plenty of time” for DeSantis to gain ground before Jan. 15.

“I don’t believe them, and there’s a reason I don’t believe them — because it does not match up at all to what I’m hearing on the ground,” said Vander Plaats. “Do I think the former president is leading the Iowa caucuses right now? I believe he is. But I believe [Trump’s support is] much closer to low 40s [while DeSantis is in the] mid-20s. I don’t think he’s got a 30-point lead. And I think there’s plenty of time to make that up.”

Trump currently has 50% support in Iowa, followed by DeSantis with 19.3%, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley with 16.7%, conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy with 5.7% and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 4%, according to the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average.

DeSantis has continued to defend his standing in Iowa and nationwide despite Trump’s large advantage in the surveys, and told Sirius XM’s Megyn Kelly during the fourth Republican primary debate that he’s “sick of hearing about these polls.” (RELATED: ‘Sick Of Hearing About These Polls’: Megyn Kelly Opens Debate By Laying Out Dire State Of DeSantis’ Polling To His Face)

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – DECEMBER 06: Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis participates in the NewsNation Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the University of Alabama Moody Music Hall. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Vander Plaats proceeded to lay out how DeSantis could gain momentum after the Iowa caucus to beat Trump for the nomination.

“DeSantis either needs to win the Iowa caucuses or he needs to be knocking on the door of Donald Trump — meaning he needs to be a very close second. I don’t know what that percentage is, but he needs to be a close second. I’d say for sure within 10 [points],” Vander Plaats told The Post. “And if not, I’m not sure who stops [Trump]. I like Nikki Haley but she has a very limited lane. She has the modern-day Mitt Romney lane. And the modern-day Mitt Romney lane isn’t near as big as what the Mitt Romney lane was back in 2008 or 2012.”

Vander Plaats was pressed over backing DeSantis for president, as all of the previous candidates the leader supported ended up winning the Iowa caucus — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in 2012 and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016, according to The Post.

However, none of those candidates had the polling advantage that Trump currently enjoys. They also did not go on to win the Republican nominations.

The RCP average for a national Republican primary, based on polls conducted between Nov. 26 and Dec. 12, indicates Trump is ahead by roughly 48 points, followed by DeSantis and Haley with 12.6% and 12.1% support, respectively. Haley has also surged to second place in both New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Neither the DeSantis nor Trump campaign immediately responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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