Ron DeSantis Routing Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried in New UNF Poll

A poll from the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida (UNF) shows Gov. Ron DeSantis with a strong lead over the Democrats trying to topple him in November.

Matched against U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican, DeSantis takes 55 percent while the Democrat gets 34 percent and 11 percent are not sure.

Paired against state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, DeSantis remains at 55 percent while she takes 32 percent and 12 percent are not sure.

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

Crist leads the Democratic primary field with 27 percent followed by Fried with 19 percent. State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, and businessman David Nelson Freeman are knotted together with 4 percent each. Environmental activist and filmmaker Amaro Lionheart takes 1 percent while 3 percent back other candidates and 38 percent remain undecided.

“Crist has eight points on Fried in the governor’s primary, but we still have 38 percent of registered Democrats in this survey who are undecided,” said Binder. “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.”

The poll shows a solid majority of Floridians–58 percent–approve of DeSantis while 37 percent of them disapprove of him. Almost half of those surveyed–49 percent–are not sure how Fried is doing while 31 percent approve and 18 percent disapprove of her.

“DeSantis approval is up by 10 percentage points from last time we asked, back in October of 2020,” Binder said. “Fried approval has remained largely steady since our February of 2020 poll, and the ‘don’t knows’ have gone down some, but folks still seem to be pretty unsure.”

More than half of those surveyed–52 percent–say they are more enthusiastic about the 2022 gubernatorial election than they were about 2018 while 30 percent say they are less enthused about it. Binder said that should help Republicans come November.

“Enthusiasm for the upcoming governor’s race is up in the overall sample, but when you break it down by party registration, we see that 65 percent of registered Republicans are more enthused than last election, compared with just 49 percent of Democrats,” said Binder. “This suggests Republicans might be trending toward a larger turnout advantage.”

The poll of 685 registered Florida voters was taken from Feb. 7 through Feb. 20 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.74 percent.

Kevin Derby
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