Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., began the pre-primary season in about as commanding a position as a challenger could be.
He was the guy to watch, the frontrunner among the crowd of challengers.
He had the momentum of a big win as governor in a big state, and all the positive media attention, not to mention the money that went with it.
Then he started running. It's been one problem after another ever since.
He spent too much time in Florida fighting with Disney.
He got caught up in legislative battles at home in Florida that distracted him from campaigning for president and cast him in a negative light.
So he got out on the road, eventually, and hit the campaign trail.
But he didn't play as well with the crowds.
The early reviews were mixed. He was stiff. Awkward. Responses were not all favorable.
They tried putting him in different settings.
They tried town meetings.
They tried to humanize him by putting him out with his wife, and putting his wife out on her own.
The donors started rumbling. The polls were dropping.
The campaign must be failing. There were critical stories.
Would heads roll? They planned fancy events to mollify the donors.
No heads rolled. At least not yet.
They were under a microscope.
The budget exploded. They were outspending Donald Trump on staff.
So they cut the staff by a third.
It's not even Labor Day yet — and one poll now has DeSantis running third.
In moments like this, it's tempting to say that the candidate has a communications problem — that the problem is that the voters simply don't know him yet and that when they do, problems like events and scheduling and staffing won't matter and the polls will reflect that.
That is certainly what people close to the candidate always want to hear — what they want the pollster to say.
But if you talk to reporters covering DeSantis, as I do, that's not what you hear.
You hear about a guy who doesn't really like retail politics, the kind of one-on-one politics that is the magic of Iowa and New Hampshire.
You hear about a guy who doesn't work the room and win them, doesn't connect with them and own them, the way some politicians do.
It's not about ideology. These are people who agree with him on the issues.
It's about something else that's harder to put into words.
Maybe it's not that voters don't know him. Maybe they just don't like him.
Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. Whether on the pages of newspapers such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post or as a television commentator on countless news programs on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, she has tackled legal matters, women's concerns, national politics and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.