UNF poll: Florida Republicans narrowly support DeSantis over Trump in 2024

In gubernatorial race, DeSantis maintains leads in polls against Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried

FILE (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File) (Rebecca Blackwell, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a poll of 685 Florida voters released Thursday by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab, Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis appears to have strong support in the upcoming gubernatorial race.

Notably, registered Republicans who participated in the poll were also asked about a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary between former President Donald Trump and DeSantis. When asked which of the two candidates they would vote for if the election were held today, 44% chose DeSantis, while 41% said Trump. Another 2% said someone else, 7% didn’t know and 6% refused to answer.

“With a lot of speculation about a possible presidential bid from DeSantis, we thought this would be an interesting hypothetical,” Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and professor of political science. said in a prepared statement. “It turned out to be pretty close with DeSantis up by three points against Trump. With both of them calling Florida home, this is a pivotal state and an outlier compared to national polling on this race.”

In the gubernatorial race, DeSantis maintained leads over Democrats Charlie Crist and Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried in head-to-head polls. Results showed 55% of respondents said they’d vote for DeSantis, with 34% choosing Crist and 11% who didn’t know. When asked who they’d vote for if the candidates were DeSantis or Fried, 55% responded DeSantis, 32% responded Fried and 12% didn’t know or refused.

We are getting new insight from voters ahead of next year's election. A new poll from UNF's Public Opinion Research lab found most registered voters would re-elect Gov. Ron DeSantis over his two top democratic challengers.

“We’re seeing a very wide margin for DeSantis against both top Democratic candidates — Crist and Fried,” Binder said. “A lot of Democratic voters still doesn’t know who they would vote for, so I would expect that lead to narrow between now and November.”

If the Democratic primary were held today, the top choice by registered Democrats in the poll was Crist with 27%, followed by Fried with 19%. Notably, 38% of respondents didn’t know who they’d vote for.

“Crist has eight points on Fried in the governor’s primary, but we still have 38% of registered Democrats in this survey who are undecided,” said Binder. “These folks likely won’t make up their minds for a while, so this will be a pretty muddled picture until later in the summer.”

In the U.S. Senate race, 46% of those polled indicated a vote for Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, while 34% said they’d vote for Democratic Rep. Val Demings. Another 17% didn’t know.

In the poll, DeSantis had the highest approval rating at 58%, with 37% disapproval and 6% who didn’t know or refused.

Of the respondents, 36% said they approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing, whether somewhat or strongly, with 57% disapproving. Notably, 46% said they strongly disapprove.

Republican senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott had similarly low approval ratings -- Rubio had 39% approving, 40% disapproving and 22% who didn’t know or refused. Scott had 37% approving, 40% disapproving and 23% who didn’t know or refused.

“Job approval is pretty low across the board for Biden, Rubio and Scott, but perhaps more telling are the disapproval numbers,” said Binder. “The majority disapprove of the job Biden is doing, and most of those strongly disapprove, with relatively few who don’t know.”

Here’s the full news release and results of the poll: