The results of the poll reveal what many across Florida once thought unthinkable: a chink in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ apparently invulnerable armor.
They said it couldn’t happen here. And yet, the tide could be turning in Florida.
For 20 years, the Sunshine State has had a Republican Legislature, with the GOP controlling the offices of governor (Ron DeSantis), secretary of state (Wilton Simpson), and attorney general (Ashley Moody).
However, according to the results of a new survey of registered Florida voters conducted in mid-May by former President Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio, the decades-long Republican dominance could end when Florida voters take to the polls.
A Chink in the Armor
The survey, which used the registered voter lists supplied by the state of Florida as of April 12, 2022, was obtained by NBC News. It showed DeSantis earning 47% of the vote and his top Democratic rival, former Gov. Charlie Crist, a full point ahead with 48% of the vote (the poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.9%).
This may seem like a small margin, but the results reveal what many across the state thought unthinkable: a chink in DeSantis’ apparently impenetrable armor.
Just last February, a University of North Florida poll showed Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis leading his Democrat candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried by a wide margin.
RELATED: Just the Facts: Florida Ranks 45th in Tax Fairness, 41st in Access to Health Care, 2nd in Mass Shootings.
At the time, when registered Florida voters were asked who they would vote for if it were down to DeSantis and Crist, 55% of people said they would vote DeSantis, 34% said they would vote Crist, and 11% were unsure.
Has DeSantis Crossed a Line?
What has turned the tide, at least in this survey, blue? Has Florida’s 46th governor finally crossed a line with his constituents? Several factors could be at play:
- The voting restrictions he signed into law last year, which some opponents have called “Jim Crow 2.0,” accusing DeSantis of trying to make it harder to vote, particularly for people of color.
- His enactment of the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law (HB 1557), which bans classroom discussion of issues relating to sexual orientation or gender identity in school.
- Many also found alarming that when the Disney corporation—one of Florida’s biggest private employers with more than 60,000 workers in the state—refused to support DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill, DeSantis retaliated by moving to end Walt Disney World’s 55 years of self-government, leaving Florida taxpayers to foot the tax bill.
- The governor’s abortion bill (House Bill 5), that makes no exceptions for rape or incest and only allows abortions past 15 weeks in cases of a medical emergency or if there’s a “fatal fetal abnormality,” among other restrictions.
- Legislation he passed that makes it illegal to peacefully protest in front of a private residence in Florida, or face jail time and fines.
- His refusal to expand Medicaid, which would bring health coverage for almost a million uninsured Floridians, or to increase Florida’s unemployment benefits from a maximum of $275 per week.
- The fact that Florida ranks second in mass shootings among the 50 states, with more than 2,568 people killed every year by gun violence. Yet DeSantis and Republican leaders fail to support common-sense legislation like universal background checks for gun buyers.
A Time for Change?
With his “Affordable Florida for All” plan, which aims to lower housing and property insurance costs, and a program to curb gun violence by enforcing common-sense gun laws, Crist has touched a nerve, the GOP’s own survey shows. This means that if the poll results hold true, a Democrat could unseat a Republican governor for the first time in 23 years.
“This GOP poll shows Floridians are tired of DeSantis’s singular, selfish focus on the 2024 presidential election and ready to usher in a new leader that can actually address the real affordability burdens Floridians are dealing with all across the Sunshine State,” says Samantha Ramirez, spokesperson for Charlie Crist. “Charlie is the experienced fighter Floridians need and want in Tallahassee right now.”
This year the primaries will be held on Aug. 23 and the midterm elections on Nov. 8.