• Ron DeSantis is being called the next Donald Trump
  • The Florida governor has high approval marks in the GOP
  • He has since received more than $2.7 million in donations for a potential 2024 bid

Gov. Ron DeSantis could become the next Donald Trump due to the Florida politician's popularity among fellow Republicans and supporters of the former president. 

DeSantis, R-Fla., has nailed high approval marks and many in the GOP see the governor as the best person to continue Trump’s legacy in the 2024 presidential election. 

"I think he's the odds-on favorite to be the next president," Joe Gruters, a Florida state senator and chairman of the state's Republican Party, told NBC News

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, attendees were asked to respond to two 2024 straw polls. DeSantis finished second to Trump in one poll and first in another in which the former president’s name was not included. 

"When you look under the hood of those numbers, DeSantis garners a lot of support from Trump voters in the absence of Trump," Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s chief pollster in 2016 and 2020, said. 

DeSantis may likely owe his popularity to Trump, who endorsed the former congressman in his primary bid for governor in late 2017. He had been running behind Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, but suddenly became the runaway favorite. Trump’s endorsement helped him to win in the Republican primary easily. 

When Florida became one of the last states to impose stay-at-home orders last spring, DeSantis made headlines for his controversial COVID-19 pandemic decisions. Fabrizio believes media coverage of the Florida governor’s coronavirus response may have actually fueled the governor's popularity. 

"As the media beat him up as the anti-Cuomo and DeSantis stood up for himself, voters liked that. They associate that type of scrappiness and speaking your mind with President Trump. He is inheriting a lot of that," Fabrizio said.

The governor has started raking in donations for a potential 2024 bid. In February, he received more than $2.7 million, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has come under fire for his handling of the public health response to COVID-19 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has come under fire for his handling of the public health response to COVID-19 Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / JOE RAEDLE