With COVID Staying Center Stage – DeSantis’ Handling of the Pandemic is Cutting Deep with Likely Voters

For Immediate Release:

In a Labor Day Weekend poll of 1,144 likely Florida voters, no matter the issue, Governor Ron DeSantis is out of step with the likely Florida voter.   Whether it is his stance on abortion, or COVID fines or future elections; something is out of step with the messaging to the overall voters, and in a dramatic way. DeSantis has less than 42% support for a Presidential run and, additionally, you will see that over 60% stand against DeSantis with regards to his stance on abortion, fining businesses and withholding salaries from school board members regarding facemask mandates. 

What was surprising to us was that the conservative regions of the state do not strongly support the actions of the Governor. 

First, we see that Charlie Crist is keeping his lead against DeSantis when it comes to the governor’s race. What we find is Crist still holds a good lead, albeit a 3% drop from a poll we conducted 2 weeks ago; however, he is still in the lead.  Also, when looking at the regions of the state, Crist is ahead in all parts of the state, including the Northern and Northwestern parts of Florida. (Crosstabs on following pages.)

First, if the election were held today, would you vote for Charlie Crist or Ron DeSantis for governor?
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Charlie Christ613 53.6%
 2. Ron DeSantis531 46.4%

Here is a comparison of how this race has changed since COVID, and the handling of it, became so paramount over the summertime.

Next, we see, that in this study, DeSantis has regained a slim lead over Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried as she, also, is running on the Democratic ticket to challenge DeSantis in the upcoming gubernatorial election. (Crosstabs on following pages.)

2. Next, if the election were held today, would you vote for Nikki Fried or Ron DeSantis for governor?
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Ron DeSantis595 52.0%
 2. Nikki Fried549 48.0%

Here is a comparison of how this race has changed since COVID, and the handling of it, became so paramount over the summertime.

Next, we see that only 40% of those polled support Governor DeSantis and his support for the Heartbeat bill, which would stop abortions after the 6-week period, in most cases.  The bill would mirror the policy just put forward in Texas.  What is interesting here is that only 54% of the GOP voters support this policy. (Crosstabs on following pages.)

3. Now, do you support the heartbeat bill which would stop abortions after the first 6 weeks of pregnancy?
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Yes466 40.7%
 2. No678 59.3%

Now, with regards to COVID, the voters are strong against the Governor’s handling of the situation, especially when it related to fines and enforcement.  First, we see 60.1% opposing his stance on issuing a $5,000 fine to businesses, schools and governments that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination.  However, Republican voters do support this with 50.2%.  Thin, but still a majority. (Crosstabs on following pages.)

4. Next, do you support Governor Ron DeSantis issuing $5,000 fines to businesses, schools and governments that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Yes457 39.9%
2. No 687 60.1%

Next, we again asked, as we did 2 weeks ago, about Governor DeSantis’ action of withholding salaries from school board members and school superintendents who went against his mask non-mandate; again, we see 69.6% opposing. This should be a damning sound that something is off or out of step here with the desires of the voters. Even 59.9% of the Republicans were against him on this measure. (Crosstabs on following pages.)

5. Now, do you think Governor Ron DeSantis should withhold salaries from school board members or superintendents of school districts that make facemasks mandatory?
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Yes348 30.4%
 2. No796 69.6%

Next, we looked at his favorability ratings, and we asked first, with regards to COVID and then a separate question with regards to his overall handling of his duties as Governor.  Here see pretty much see little daylight between the two as it seems as though they are only ranking him based of pandemic situation.  

When it comes to COVID handling, DeSantis has 40.8% favorability ranking.  (Crosstabs on following pages.)

6. Next, what is your opinion on Ron DeSantis’ handling of the Covid 19 pandemic?
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Extremely Favorable248 21.7%
 2. Very Favorable115 10.1%
 3. Favorable103 9.0%
 4. unfavorable 273 23.9%
 5. Very Unfavorable 176 15.4%
 6. Extremely Unfavorable202 17.7%
 7. No Opinion27 2.4%

Next, when you look at his overall favorability, he is down to 42.2%.  This is an 11% drop from a July 23 poll seeing his overall favorability near 55%. (Crosstabs on following pages.)

7. Next, overall, with all the function of his duties as governor, what is your opinion of Ron DeSantis?
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Extremely Favorable243 21.2%
 2. Very Favorable98 8.6%
 3. Favorable142 12.4%
 4. unfavorable 263 23.0%
 5. Very Unfavorable 208 18.2%
 6. Extremely Unfavorable185 16.2%
 7. No Opinion5 0.4%

Finally, we did a blind head-to-head for the presidential race and found that only 41.3% of Florida likely voters would vote for him as President with 58.7% saying they would like someone else. (Name not mentioned.) (Crosstabs on following pages.)

8. Finally, would you vote for Ron DeSantis for president or choose someone else?
Responses: 1144Total Overall %
 1. Ron DeSantis473 41.3%
 2. Someone Else67158.7% 


The persons sampled were Florida likely voters with a voting score of 100% for the primary and general election cycles. The voters called were those only with landlines and were called using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and were called during the hours of 1PM to 8PM September 3-5, 2021. The Margin of Error for this study is 

+/- 3.1% with a confidence level of 95%.  The crosstabs are broken down by Age, Party Affiliation and State Senate regions. 


Starting as a call center and market research center in 1998; since 2010 TLG has been serving clients as a full-service Marketing Research, Advertising, Public Relations firm. If your success depends on other people—customers, clients, patients, readers, viewers, and voters in whatever role these people’s opinions of you matter—you need The Listener® Group.  Headquartered in Pensacola, we have developed a team that has placed us, continuously, as the most accurate political and public policy polling firm in the Southeastern United States. We deliver a comprehensive blend of market research and advertising products that work in concert to maximize the effectiveness of your message.  For more information you can contact Greg Fink at 850.384.7008 or greg@thelistenergroup.com

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