With a Covid death count cover up consuming New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a pandemic-related recall effort haunting California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Republicans are embracing DeSantis as a red-state exemplar, pointing to rates of Covid deaths, vaccinations and unemployment in the most-populous blue states.

“Ron DeSantis is having a moment with conservatives,” said Josh Holmes, a top adviser to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “Part of this is liberals tried to cast this in the yin-and-yang comparison with Cuomo … It’s policy and it’s partly stylistic, the way he handles the news media and his blue-collar appeal.”…

In Florida, recent polls of Republicans show him with higher net favorable ratings than Donald Trump — notable findings in a populous battleground state where the former president just won by the biggest margin of any presidential candidate since 2004. Those numbers also suggest DeSantis is more popular than the state’s two senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both of whom have presidential ambitions as well.

“He flies by instinct, not by instrument. He’s a natural,” said Ryan Tyson, a top Republican pollster whose recent survey for a private client, shared with POLITICO, showed DeSantis edging Trump in popularity among Florida Republicans.