Florida's Ron DeSantis Enjoys Approval Rating Bounce, Leads Potential 2022 Rivals: Poll

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis leads two of his potential gubernatorial opponents in a new poll published on Tuesday. The Republican is up for reelection next year and appears to be in prime position to win.

A Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey shows 53 percent of Florida residents approve of DeSantis' performance as governor, while 42 percent disapprove. This is an improvement on his rating in the same poll last year.

DeSantis' approval rating was just 45 percent in July 2020, according to Mason-Dixon. Forty-nine percent of respondents disapproved of the governor's job performance at the time.

This polling bounce may be a good sign for DeSantis as Florida heads into the next gubernatorial election cycle.

The Mason-Dixon survey also showed that DeSantis leads two of his potential rivals for the governor's mansion in 2022.

DeSantis leads Florida's Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, by 51 percent to 42 percent with 7 percent of respondents undecided.

The Republican enjoys an even larger lead over another potential opponent, Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist. DeSantis leads Crist with 52 percent to 41 percent.

Crist is a former Republican who served as governor from 2007 to 2011 and has represented Florida's 13th congressional district since 2017. The Mason-Dixon poll showed that 41 percent of respondents view Crist unfavorably, while just 27 percent viewed him favorably.

However, the poll also showed Fried has limited name recognition in the Sunshine State, with 37 percent of respondents saying they didn't recognize her name. This could change as the gubernatorial election approaches and especially if Fried wins the Democratic primary. As one of the four most populous states, the Florida governor's race is usually the focus of national media attention.

Fried has been the state's agriculture commissioner since 2019 and is currently the only Democrat to hold statewide elected office in Florida. She's also the first Democrat to win an election to the post since 1998.

DeSantis has faced criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He's pushed hard for reopening the economy and opposed lockdowns but recent polling analysis by Newsweek shows his approval rating hasn't suffered significantly as a result.

"[President Joe] Biden is a lockdowner, his advisers are lockdowners," DeSantis told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo on February 14.

"Lockdowns don't work, we've demonstrated that. We're not turning back Maria, and they won't be able to get away with targeting Florida," he said.

DeSantis' may be the candidate to beat in Florida in 2022 but he's also seen as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024. In a CPAC presidential straw poll over the weekend, the governor came second with 21 percent of the vote. First place went to former President Donald Trump, who won 55 percent.

Governor Ron DeSantis Speaks at CPAC
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. DeSantis leads potential 2022 gubernatorial challengers by a significant margin. Joe Raedle/Getty Images