The most recent poll of 500 Floridians by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (polls.saintleo.edu) shows that more than half of respondents (58.8 percent) say they approve of the job Governor Ron DeSantis is doing, a slight increase from polling in the fall when 56.4 percent said he was doing a good job.
Likewise, 58.8 percent of respondents say his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic meets their approval, the poll shows. The online poll was conducted between February 28 and March 12, in Florida where the Saint Leo University Polling Institute is based, and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted during a time frame when DeSantis described mask wearing as “COVID theater.” The governor was staunchly against lockdowns and mandates in response to the pandemic.
Saint Leo’s recent poll shows 38 percent of respondents strongly approve and 20.8 percent somewhat approve of DeSantis’ handling of the COVID crisis while 9.2 percent somewhat disapprove, 26.8 percent strongly disapprove, and 5.2 percent say they are unsure.
In regard to the governor’s overall performance in leading Florida, the survey asked respondents the following question, with results shown below.
How would you rate the job Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing? Would you say you…
Polling results in October 2021 found 56.4 percent said they approved of the job DeSantis is doing while 40.6 percent said they did not approve of his performance. In Saint Leo’s polling in 2021, DeSantis’s approval came in at 57.6 percent while those not approving of the job he was doing numbered 34.8 percent.
“Governor DeSantis is benefitting from a strong economy and a lack of COVID cases in the state over the past few months,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and a political scientist. “While he gets lots of national attention for provoking the ire of liberals on things like masking, it doesn’t seem to hurt him in Florida, and in fact continues to raise his national profile.”
According to the website, FiveThirtyEight, the Saint Leo University Polling Institute is rated C/D on a scale of A+ to D-.
The survey asked respondents about how they would vote in three potential matchups featuring DeSantis and Democratic gubernatorial challengers if the November 2022 election was held on the day they completed the survey. Those surveyed were provided the names only with no descriptions or party designations.
The potential matchup questions were asked in the following order with these results:
- In the case of DeSantis versus Annette Taddeo, who is a Democratic Florida state senator from Miami: 48.6 percent chose DeSantis; 29.6 percent selected Taddeo; and 21.8 percent were unsure.
- In the case of DeSantis versus Charlie Crist, who is now a Democratic Congressman from St. Petersburg but who was elected governor of Florida (2007-2011) as a Republican: 49.2 percent selected DeSantis; 32.8 percent said they would vote for Crist; and 18 percent were unsure.
- In the instance of DeSantis versus Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services and a Democrat: DeSantis was chosen by 50.6 percent of respondents; Fried was selected by 27 percent; and 22.4 percent were unsure.
“As long as the governor’s approval ratings remain in the upper 50s [percentage], it’s hard to see him losing in 2022, which promises to be a strong year for Republicans nationwide,” said Orlando, director of the polling institute. “Due to increased name ID, it’s important to look at the percentage of respondents supporting the incumbent. Being close to 50 percent in all three of the races means that he is in relatively powerful position moving forward, but we should expect tightening once the Dems pick their nominee.”