New UNF poll shows majority approve of Gov. DeSantis’ job performance

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The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida has a new poll of Florida registered voters that reveals a majority approve of the job Ron DeSantis is doing as governor. The survey also shows job approval for Sen. Marco Rubio is higher than job approval for newly elected Sen. Rick Scott.

The poll, comprised of registered voters in the state of Florida, shows approval for Gov. DeSantis at 60 percent overall, with a net positive of 41 points. Not surprisingly, the strongest support comes from registered Republicans at 81 percent approval and only 45 percent approval among registered Democrats. Overall, 21 percent don’t know.  

Additionally, 51 percent of respondents approve either strongly or somewhat of how Rubio is handling his job, a net positive of 21 points. Seventy-one percent of Republicans approve and 36 percent of Democrats approve of the job that he’s doing. These figures are lower for Scott, with 43 percent overall approving, but only a net positive of 10 points. 

Republican voters have 64 percent approval for Scott, and Democratic voters have 23 percent. Concerning Nikki Fried, Florida commissioner of agriculture, 32 percent approve strongly or somewhat of the job she’s doing, with a net positive of 21 points. Among Democrats, Fried has 33 percent approval, and among Republicans she has 29 percent approval. Fifty-eight percent don’t know how she’s performing.

According to the UNF lab, Gov. DeSantis is enjoying the honeymoon period of recently being elected. The question that will play out over the next two months is whether he can translate his popularity into policy during the legislative session in Tallahassee, said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF.

“Having unified Republican government should make things easier for the governor, but as we have seen in the past, personal relationships can make or break the budgeting process,” Binder said.            

When asked what they believe is the most important problem facing Florida, education topped the list with 19 percent, followed closely by the environment and health care with 18 and 17 percent, respectively. Immigration leads the way for Republican voters with 22 percent, and Democrats believe health care is the most important problem, also at 22 percent.

Regarding the United States Space Command, 76 percent of registered voters support the Space Command being headquartered in Florida, 9 percent oppose and 15 percent don’t know. Among Democrats, support is at 67 percent, while Republicans have 85 percent support. When asked about allowing concealed carry on college campuses, 38 percent of registered voters support it, with 58 percent opposing. Democrats report 20 percent support of concealed carry on college campuses, while Republicans report 57 percent support. On a different note, only 46 percent of voters support allowing teachers and school officials to conceal carry in K-12 schools, with 27 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans supporting it.

“DeSantis’ recent appeals to bring the Space Command headquarters to Florida has tremendous support within the state,” Binder said. “In a much more controversial policy discussion, guns on college campuses and armed teachers in K-12 schools have more opposition than support.” 

Concerning smokable medical marijuana, 87 percent support legalization in Florida, while 12 percent oppose. Democratic voters have 89 percent support, while Republicans have 83 percent support. Similarly, when asked about recreational marijuana use, 62 percent of voters support legalizing it. Sixty-five percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans support the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“Medical marijuana, in all of its forms, has overwhelming support among Florida’s registered voters,” Binder said. “Even recreational marijuana, which has been proposed in the Florida legislature, has majority support among both Democrats and Republicans.” 

For details about the methodology of the survey and additional crosstabs by partisanship, sex, education, race, and age go to www.unf.edu/coas/porl/2019FLSP.aspx

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