Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is leading his potential Democrat challengers by over 20 points, a University of North Florida (UNF) survey released Thursday found.
The survey, conducted by the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at UNF among Florida voters, shows the popular Republican governor widening his margins against his potential Democrat challengers, both of whom he leads by double digits.
His top potential challengers, Democrat Rep. Charlie Crist and State Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried lead the field of Democrat candidates, although Crist takes the edge among all, leading by 27 percent. Fried — a frequent DeSantis critic who once accused him of being absent while coronavirus cases rose in the state when in reality he was attending his wife’s cancer treatments — follows eight points behind with 19 percent.
However, DeSantis dominates both challengers. In a general matchup against Crist, DeSantis leads by 21 percentage points — 55 percent to the Democrat’s 34 percent.
His lead expands even more when matched up against Fried, leading by 23 percentage points, or 55 percent to 32 percent.
The statewide survey, taken February 7-20, 2022, among 685 Florida voters has a margin of error of +/- 3.74 percent.
DeSantis has built his steely reputation over the past two years after constant attacks from leftists and members of the establishment media over his handling of the Chinese coronavirus, prioritizing freedom, unlike his blue-state counterparts. The data essentially validates DeSantis’s approach as well, as Florida saw record-breaking domestic travel numbers to the Sunshine State in 2021 as Americans flocked to the Sunshine State to escape heavy-handed mandates.
“And amongst those visitors, I just have to point out, you have governors that have locked down their states, imposed mandates, imposed restrictions. You have big-city mayors that have imposed lockdown policies. You have people on TV news networks that advocate for restrictions and lockdowns, and almost all of them have been criticizing Florida for a year and a half and yet many of them are part of our visitation figures,” DeSantis said, highlighting leftist hypocrisy.
They were “coming down to Florida, you have them on the beach, you find them somewhere else, at some resort,” he said. “All the while, they’re treating their own people very poorly and criticizing us for treating people with respect and protecting their freedoms.”
“So yes, there are a lot of those lockdown politicians that are reflected in the 118 million visitors from across the nation. But look. You know, people vote with their feet so they can say one thing, but what they do is often more important than what they say,” he added.