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Politics / Issues

Poll shows DeSantis has a healthy election lead in the Florida gubernatorial race

DeSantis Campaign / Twitter

Gov. Ron DeSantis easily leads Democratic candidates Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist in the new poll from the University of North Florida, and would out Donald Trump in a presidential primary.

Gov. Ron DeSantis easily leads Democratic gubernatorial candidates Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist in a new poll from the University of North Florida.

DeSantis would beat Crist 55% to 34% if the election were held today, according to the poll released by the PUblic Opinion Research Lab at UNF on Thursday. It showed 11% were undecided or refused to answer.

The incumbent governor would beat Fried 55% to 32%, with 12% undecided or not answering.

"We're seeing a very wide margin for DeSantis against both top Democratic candidates — Crist and Fried," said Michael Binder, director of the lab and a professor of political science. "A lot of Democratic voters still don't know who they would vote for, so I would expect that lead to narrow between now and November."

The UNF poll mirrored polls by other organizations. A Mason-Dixon poll earlier this month found DeSantis leading Crist by 51% to 43%. He led Fried by 53% to 42%.

UNF also found that DeSantis narrowly edged out former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical primary for the Republican presidential nomination — 44% to 41%. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.74 percentage points, so the race could go either way.

"With a lot of speculation about a possible presidential bid from DeSantis, we thought this would be an interesting hypothetical," Binder said. "With both of them calling Florida home, this is a pivotal state and an outlier compared to national polling on this race."

UNF polled 685 registered Florida voters by phone from Feb. 7 through 20. The sample included 36% Democrats, 36% Republicans and 29% no party affiliation or other.

Democrats chose Crist over Fried by 27% to 19% in a primary, with 4% picking state Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami and 4% businessman David Nelson Freeman.

"Crist has eight points on Fried in the governor's primary, but we still have 38% of registered Democrats in this survey who are undecided," Binder said. "These folks likely won't make up their minds for a while, so this will be a pretty muddled picture until later in the summer."
In other findings:

  • Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio topped Democrat Val Demings by 46% to 34%. Seventeen percent were undecided.
  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly disapprove of President Job Biden's job performance. Thirty-six percent said they somewhat or strongly approve.
  • DeSantis got a better rating. Fifty-eight percent somewhat or strongly approved of DeSantis' performance, compared with 37% who somewhat or strongly disapproved. DeSantis' approval is up by 10 percentage points since a UNF poll in October 2020, Binder said.
  • Asked who they feel won the 2020 presidential election, 58% said Biden definitely or probably won. Thirty-four percent said Trump. Almost two-thirds of Republicans believe that Trump was the true winner.

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