Florida’s primary is August 23 and we haven’t discussed the statewide races much. Early voting has already begun. With the exception of the race for Agriculture Commissioner, they’re all a bunch of lesser of 2 evils contests— and mostly races where the greater evil seems destined to win. I never for a moment thought that either Democrat could dislodge Ron DeSantis, nor that supremely mediocre Democrat Val Demings could beat greater evil Marco Rubio. I would still not put any money on Democratic wins in Florida, but…
Before we get to the “but,” let me remind you that in 2020 Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes 5,668,731 (51.22%) to 5,297,045 (47.86%). Trump had beaten Hillary by 2.2 points but beat Biden by 3.4 points, one of just 5 states where Trump received a greater percentage of the two-party vote than he did in 2016. Trump won 56 of Florida’s 67 counties, although Biden flipped 3 counties that Trump won in 2017, Duval, Pinellas and Seminole.
Yesterday I saw a legitimate-looking poll of registered voters from the University of North Florida that shows a head to head between Demings and Rubio with Demings ahead, 48-44% (fractionally outside of the margin of error). The same poll also shows DeSantis significantly ahead of both Nikki Fried (50-43%) and Republican-turned-Blue Dog Charlie Crist (50-42%). But let’s stick with the Senate race for a second. Demings has outraised (and outspent— although much of that spending is on inefficient fundraising) Rubio. As of August 3rd, Demings had raised $47,207,054 and spent $39,161,328 to Rubio’s $36,467,419 and $21,617,284. Rubio has $15 million in cash and Demings has about $8.8 left.
This has been a bad news month for Republicans, thanks in great part to Trump. It’s still a long way to November but that Demings is even running neck and neck with Rubio is astounding. Dealing with the gubernatorial race first, this is what the pollster had to say:
A new poll of likely primary voters in Florida from The Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida shows gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried ahead of Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary, but still seven points behind Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis in a head-to-head race among registered voters.
Registered Democrats who are likely to vote in the August 23 primary election were asked their vote choices for the Democratic nominees for Florida Governor and U.S. Senate. A respondent is considered a “likely” voter if they said they would definitely vote, or had already voted in the primary. In the Governor’s race, 47% said they would vote for Nikki Fried, followed by 43% for Charlie Crist; Cadance Daniel and Robert Willis had 4% and 1%, respectively; 6% didn’t know or refused to answer.
For the U.S. Senate seat, the overwhelming majority indicated a vote for Val Demings at 80%, with William Sanchez and Brian Rush tied in a distant second with 4% each. Two percent indicated a vote for Ricardo de la Fuente, and 10% didn’t know or refused.
“Fried seems to have reversed the eight-point lead that Crist had when we asked registered Democrats about vote choice in February,” commented Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science. “It’s possible that the overturning of Roe v. Wade changed the make-up of this race, and has particularly energized women that are almost 20 points more likely to vote for her.”
Registered voters who said they would vote in the general midterm election were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, and the candidates were Ron DeSantis and Nikki Fried. Fifty percent of respondents said they would vote for DeSantis, with 43% indicating a vote for Fried, and 5% said they would vote for someone else. DeSantis also came out on top with 50% when asked the same question if the Democratic candidate was Charlie Crist, who had 42%, and 6% saying they would vote for someone else.
Val Demings came out on top in the head-to-head against Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, with 48% indicating a vote for Demings and 44% for Rubio, with 7% saying they would vote for someone else.
“Fried and Crist are trailing behind DeSantis in head-to-heads,” Binder noted, “but both potential match-ups are much closer than they were when we polled registered voters in February, when DeSantis was up by over 20 percentage points. It is important to keep in mind that these are registered voters, and Republicans are generally more likely to turn out in November.”
Registered Republicans were also asked who they would vote for in a hypothetical presidential primary in 2024 between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. Of those respondents, 47% said they would vote for DeSantis and 45% for Trump; 7% said they would vote for someone else.
…In addition to primary and general election questions, respondents were asked about job approval for several federal and state officials. President Joe Biden has an approval rating of 38%, with 59% disapproving. The U.S. Supreme Court had similarly low approval, with 37% approving and 59% disapproval. U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott both fared no better, each with 37% approving.
Governor Ron DeSantis had an approval rating of 50%, down from 58% in February of this year. Forty-five percent said they approve strongly of the job DeSantis is doing, while only 5% said they approve somewhat. Conversely, 41% said they strongly disapprove, with only 7% disapproving somewhat. Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried had an approval rating of 40%, with 27% disapproving and 31% who don’t know.
“The polarization of DeSantis support is striking, if not altogether surprising with political agenda and media presence this past year,” Binder commented. “More people seem to have an opinion about Fried since she started campaigning for Governor— her ‘don’t know’ percentage has decreased dramatically from 49% in February.”
Respondents were also asked about the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade… When asked how this decision would impact their voting behavior, 51% said made them more likely to vote in the November midterm election, 46% said it would not affect their decision to vote, and 3% said it would make them less likely to vote.
In a related question, respondents were asked if they would support a law making abortion illegal in all cases in the State of Florida, to which the majority (59%) said they would be strongly opposed, and 12% somewhat opposed. Twenty-seven percent said they would support such a law: 13% strongly and 14% somewhat.
At least it’s better than Louisiana, where a woman is being forced to carry a headless fetus to term by the state’s Republican Party.