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Whoa: Another Monster Poll for Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida

AP Photo/Butch Dill, File

I generally wouldn't devote an entire post to a single poll about a state-level politician who isn't even facing an election in the upcoming cycle. The whole idea feels borderline irrelevant, and perhaps a bit boring. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to every rule. And the eye-popping numbers Gov. Ron DeSantis is pulling down in Florida are too wild to ignore. The latest survey of Sunshine State voters pegs his job approval rating at (+48), with only one-fifth of Floridians disapproving. The top line finding is more or less unheard-of in such a closely-divided battleground state. The internals are even more astounding:


One stunner after another. More than half of Democrats approve of the governor's job performance, as do two-thirds of independents. In several demographics among which Republicans typically struggle, DeSantis is thriving, attracting 67 percent of Hispanics, 66 percent of young voters and women, and 63 percent of African-Americans. It might be tempting to dismiss this epic poll as a weird, isolated outlier, but it's not. The last three statewide surveys have measured an approval rating between 58 and 72 percent; in other words, the newest addition isn't even his best poll of the three. What makes all of this even more astonishing is that DeSantis didn't run as a get-along moderate. He ran hard as a pro-Trump Republican, even drawing flak for this jokey campaign ad:

DeSantis was cast as a controversial and polarizing figure, with his left-wing opponent accusing him using of employing racist dogwhistles on the campaign trail. He was also expected to lose, trailing by nearly four points in the polling average on election day. He was down in 16 of the last 17 public polls. Then he won by less than half of one percentage point, as did former governor and current Senator Rick Scott. Both victories were major upsets and made some pollsters look awfully silly. That's not exactly the political profile of a leader who might be expected to find himself enjoying overwhelming support roughly one year later -- and yet, here we are. Florida, the largest and most diverse swing state in the country, is so closely split that it's virtually impossible to imagine DeSantis sustaining this level of support, but he's governed in a smart, focused, savvy and surprisingly unifying fashion thus far. Other politicians should take notice. Here's at least one significant explanatory factor:


The University of Florida’s Consumer Sentiment Index released Wednesday gained 3.2 points to 99.3 in November after declining in October. All five components that make up the index increased in the report, showing stronger confidence among Floridians for the economy in 2020 and beyond...Florida’s overall economic conditions remain favorable, the report noted, with a low unemployment rate and the state gaining 228,600 jobs in November over the year. The jobless rate in Sarasota-Manatee matched the 2019 low at 2.8% in October, the most recent month measured. Consumer sentiment among Floridians in April hit the highest level since March 2002, but it has moved up and down in subsequent months.

Incidentally, other major Florida Republicans also have plenty to smile about in this latest poll:

The two U.S. senators from Florida, Republicans Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, were awarded with more positive than negative ratings in the November survey. Scott, who preceded DeSantis as governor, has a combined approval rating of 56.8 percent, which is up from 47 percent in April. And the recent survey shows Rubio with a 55.4 percent approval rating in Florida, up from 46.2 percent in April.


Sitting in the mid-to-high 50's would usually be considered a feat unto itself in Florida. By contrast, President Trump is still mired in mediocre territory in his new home state: "The November results from Florida show that 45.6 percent approve of Trump’s job performance," with 51.4 percent disapproving. The good news for Trump is that his standing has improved over this series' April data, when he was further underwater (40/55). And this sort of thing could certainly help him continue to improve:

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