Ron DeSantis Polls Show Mixed Picture as He Battles Florida COVID Crisis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is facing a complex polling situation as he prepares to run for a second term as governor in 2022 with two recent polls showing significantly different potential outcomes as the state grapples with a surge in COVID-19.

The Republican's chances of defeating likely Democratic gubernatorial candidates next November vary from poll to poll, and two surveys conducted over a similar period paint different pictures.

Both polls asked voters who they would vote for in two hypothetical matchups: DeSantis versus Democratic U.S. Representative Charlie Crist; and DeSantis versus state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is also a Democrat.

A poll by Future Majority conducted among 1,585 likely Florida voters between August 14 and 17 found that DeSantis would defeat both Democrats in the race for governor.

The survey showed DeSantis defeating Crist by 49 percent to 45 percent and beating Fried by 49 percent to 44 percent.

Future Majority was founded by Democratic strategists in 2018 and aims to support Democratic candidates. The poll's margin of error is 3 percent for the broadest samples and was conducted through an online survey.

However, a poll from the Political Matrix/The Listener Group conducted between August 14 and 18 among 1,000 likely Florida voters found that DeSantis would lose in matchups against both Crist and Fried.

When respondents were asked who they would vote for if the election were held that day, 56.7 percent said they would vote for Crist compared to 43.3 percent who chose DeSantis.

Similarly, 53.7 percent of likely Florida voters said they would vote for Fried, while 46.3 percent said they would vote for DeSantis. The poll's margin of error was 3.1 percent.

The poll was conducted over landline phones using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system among likely voters who had a "voting score of 100% for the primary and general election cycles."

Mark Riddle, president and CEO of Future Majority, told Newsweek on Tuesday: "Our voter survey and others show Gov. DeSantis and Sen. [Marco] Rubio under 50 percent approval.

"Florida voters have caught on that these two ambitious politicians worry more about their national profile than the working people of Florida. Florida is always a close state, and this looks no different."

The dueling poll results come as Florida is coping with a surge in COVID-19's Delta variant. Daily deaths from the virus were higher on Monday than at any stage in 2020, according to data reported by the state.

The Florida Hospitals Association reported on Monday that there were 16,827 confirmed hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the state, while on Sunday, August 22, there were 14,261 confirmed new cases.

ℹ Florida COVID-19 Update for August 23, 2021

🚨 Total Confirmed Hospitalizations: 16,827 pic.twitter.com/kRWwUFEMJn

— Florida Hospital Association (@FLHospitalAssn) August 23, 2021

It has been difficult to gauge the effect the Delta variant surge has had on DeSantis' political fortunes as polls have differed about his approval rating and his chances of winning re-election next year.

The Political Matrix/The Listener Group found that 53.8 percent of respondents had an unfavorable or very unfavorable view of DeSantis' handling of the overall COVID pandemic, while 43.3 percent had a favorable or very favorable view of it.

The Future Majority poll found that 51 percent of likely voters believed DeSantis "cares more about running for President in 2024," while 46 percent said he "cares more about the future of Florida."

Newsweek has asked The Political Matrix/The Listener Group for comment.

UPDATE 08/24/21 10.20am E.T.: This article was updated to include a statement from Future Majority.

Ron DeSantis Speaks During a Press Conference
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Shul of Bal Harbour on June 14, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Recent polls show a mixed picture for DeSantis heading into the 2022 gubernatorial election. Joe Raedle/Getty Images