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Casey DeSantis Starts Out in Front in Early UNF Poll Looking at Florida 2026 GOP Gubernatorial Primary

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis is out front in an early look at the GOP gubernatorial primary in 2026, according to a new poll from the University of North Florida’s (UNF) Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL).

With her husband facing term limits in 2026, First Lady DeSantis has the support of 22 percent of likely Florida Republican primary voters. U.S. Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., are battling for second with 9 percent each. State Attorney General Ashley Moody gets 6 percent, followed by Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis at 3 percent and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez at 2 percent. State Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., all pull 1 percent each.

However, 40 percent of those surveyed don’t know or refuse, while 6 percent back other candidates.

While the same UNF poll shows him getting trounced by former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential primary, it also finds Gov. Ron DeSantis can play a large role as Florida Republicans look for a new governor. Two-thirds of Florida Republicans–68 percent–say the governor’s endorsement would influence their vote for governor and only 18 percent say it won’t have an impact. More than a third of those surveyed–37 percent–say DeSantis’ endorsement would influence their vote a great deal, while 31 percent say it would have some influence, while 10 percent say it would have very little impact.

Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and a professor of political science at UNF, weighed in on the findings.

“We’re obviously still a ways out from the governor’s race, and this pool of candidates will certainly change before 2026,” said Binder. “For now, it seems Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis is an early favorite among Republican primary voters – wouldn’t that be interesting, potentially having the DeSantises in the governor’s mansion for another 11 years?”

The poll of 788 likely Florida Republican primary voters was taken from Oct. 23 through Nov. 4 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.77 percent.

Author

  • Kevin Derby

    Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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