Ron DeSantis was a slam dunk. Until he wasn't.

Worse, there is some evidence for Mr. DeSantis that right-wing-base hits are problematic even with some Republicans. Florida endured a devastating summer 2021 surge in Covid cases and deaths. Mr. DeSantis’s mandates against masks and vaccines have encountered resistance, and not just in left-leaning areas. Several counties that heavily favored Mr. DeSantis in 2018 have defied his order and instituted mask mandates (some temporary), including Sarasota County, which he won by almost nine points; Indian River County, which he won by 22 points; and Brevard County, which he won by 17 points.

Mr. DeSantis’s approval numbers have also declined. A late August Morning Consult poll showed him down to 48 percent approval from 54 percent in late June — with the biggest shift coming from independents. Another survey of the governor’s approval from Quinnipiac now stands 12 points lower than it did in 2019. And while he opposed vaccine mandates for cruise ships — a significant industry in the Sunshine State, with a lot of Republican customers — over 60 percent of Floridians supported them.

Mr. DeSantis isn’t the only Republican who has taken a right-wing line on Covid measures and experienced political fallout from it. Since June, the disapproval numbers for Texas governor Greg Abbott have gone up among both Republicans and independents.