Poll: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ once-soaring approval drops below 50%
As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths grow by the day, a new Mason-Dixon Florida Poll shows Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval rating diving 17 points in the past four months.
The governor, who previously served Volusia and Flagler counties in Congress, scored 62% approval rating in March. By July, that number was 45%.
A greater number of respondents, 49%, said they disapprove of DeSantis’ performance.
The Mason-Dixon poll didn’t ask respondents why they approved or disapproved of DeSantis.
Ed LaSanta, a Democrat from Deltona who survived a bout with coronavirus in March and April, said DeSantis’ drop in the polls can be attributed to a failure of leadership.
“He defies common sense as to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows he has disrespect for science,” LaSanta said. “He has allowed the beaches to reopen and now we’re paying the price.”
LaSanta also cited DeSantis’ fight to prevent ex-felons from voting despite the passage of Amendment 4 in 2018. The voters changed the Florida Constitution to allow felons to regain their right to vote after completing their sentences. DeSantis’ administration has been involved in a protracted legal battle attempting to require those former felons to pay all fines, fees and court costs associated with their cases before regaining voting rights.
DeSantis’ rise in the 2018 election was built on the endorsement of President Donald Trump, whose own polling has gone south. LaSanta said he recalls a TV ad featuring DeSantis teaching his toddlers how to build a wall and say “Make America Great Again.”
“He tied himself too much to Trump instead of trying to be his own man, and that’s part of leadership,” LaSanta said.
Sharon Demers, a Republican state committeewoman from Flagler County, said she thinks DeSantis is doing a “great” job. If people are unhappy with his leadership style, she said he is following the Florida Constitution, which gives local jurisdictions authority on questions such as mask requirements.
She said DeSantis’ popularity might have taken a hit because of his order closing taverns. “If I owned a business like a bar, I might not be happy ... because I’m shut down,” she said.
As to DeSantis’ approval being tethered to Trump’s, Demers has another concern: media coverage.
“If you turn on any news station, there’s all kinds of negative media constantly. There’s never a positive thing said about President Trump,” she said, adding that Florida news outlets treat DeSantis much the same way.
Demers’ comments are reflected in the governor’s numbers in North Florida, including Flagler County, where he got 58% support and 37% disapproval.
In Central Florida, including Volusia County, DeSantis was 46% approval and 48% disapproval.
His drop among Democrats was precipitous — down from 41% approval in March to 17% in July. His score was down 11 points among Republicans and 17 points among independents.
The Mason-Dixon poll comes on the heels of last week’s Quinnipiac University poll showing even worse numbers for DeSantis: 41% approval to 52% disapproval.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Inc., Jacksonville, interviewed 625 registered Florida voters by telephone between July 20 and 23. The margin of error is plus- or minus-4 percentage points.
Of the respondents interviewed, 43% were Democrats, 41% were Republicans and 16% were independents or registered with other parties.
This story originally published to news-journalonline.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.