Stetson’s New Polling Center Finds DeSantis, Rubio Ahead

According to a new poll of likely voters conducted by Stetson University’s new Center for Public Opinion Research, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio are leading in their reelection bids. 

According to the poll, DeSantis holds an 8-point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist (53% to 45%, respectively). Rubio holds a 7-point lead over Democrat Val Demings (52% to 45%, respectively). 

Steven Smallpage, PhD

“Even though Florida is very ‘purple,’ I think that Florida has probably turned a corner from being a ‘swing state’ to being increasingly red,” said Steven Smallpage, PhD, associate professor of political science at Stetson and director of Stetson’s recently launched Center for Public Opinion Research

In conducting its first poll last week, the independent, nonpartisan survey research center at Stetson polled 644 likely Florida voters and found DeSantis has an overall approval rating of 61%, with 39% disapproving. Among the likely voters, 64% think that DeSantis will win reelection on Nov. 8. A majority of likely voters (58%) also expect Rubio to win reelection. 

Kelly Smith, PhD

“Gov. DeSantis is going into the last weeks of the campaign with high approval ratings from likely voters,” said Kelly B. Smith, PhD, assistant professor of political science at Stetson. “DeSantis has a strong chance of winning as long as Republicans in key areas go to the polls on Election Day. Right now, it looks like they will,” 

“It seems like the overall narrative of this election has been whether social issues would overtake economic ones,” Smallpage said. “It seems as if we have an answer: It’s still the economy.”

According to the poll, the most important issue for Florida’s likely voters was: “Cost of living/Inflation” (48%). The second and third most important issues were: “Abortion/Reproductive Rights” (12%) and “Economy/Jobs/Unemployment” (10%).

Gov. Ron DeSantis

“Even for Florida’s Democrats, for every voter who said reproductive rights was the most important issue (20%), nearly twice as many Democrats said it was inflation (38%). For Republicans, it was 9-to-1. Only 6% said abortion was the most important issue, while 54% said it was cost of living or inflation,” said Smallpage.

Democrat Charlie Crist

According to the poll, 53% of Floridians disapprove of how President Joe Biden has handled his job as chief executive, while only 47% approve.  

“As with most elections — particularly in midterm elections — partisan identity is driving people to the voting booth and guiding people’s vote choice,” Smallpage said. According to the poll, in both races, 90% of partisan identifiers support their candidate. 

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

While the polling suggests a solid victory for the Republicans, Smith warns there is still a chance that the Democrats can push hard this November. 

Democrat Val Demings

“Although Sen. Rubio holds a 7-point lead, if Val Demings can energize Democrats in areas like Miami, Orlando or Tampa, she has a chance to keep this race close,” Smith said. “However, with a majority of Floridians disapproving of President Joe Biden, this may be difficult.”

The survey was conducted Oct. 16-20. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. The data was weighted by geographic area, ethnicity, age, education, partisan identity and gender. Data was collected through an online panel provided by Dynata. The polling results are available by visiting the Center’s website.

-Stetson University