Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is ahead of his Democratic opponent, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, by double digits in the state’s gubernatorial race, according to a new survey released on Wednesday.
The poll, if correct, would mean a landslide win for DeSantis and a marked increase from his 2018 margin of victory over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, which was 0.4%.
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The survey was conducted between Oct. 17 and 24, the latter date being the day of the only debate between the candidates. During the debate, DeSantis called Crist a “worn-out old donkey” whom he was “looking to put out to pasture.”
In response, Crist said that DeSantis “love[d] to bully people and the name-calling,” citing his criticism of children standing behind him at a press conference in March. “You do not have to wear those masks,” he said, adding that “it’s not doing anything, and we’ve got to stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”
Most polling has shown DeSantis far ahead of Crist, with an average lead of 11% according to RealClearPolitics, the largest of any incumbent governor up for reelection in the country. FiveThirtyEight gives DeSantis a 97% chance of winning the race.
DeSantis has become a popular politician among conservatives across the country for his policies to advance parental rights in education, ban textbooks with contested sexuality concepts, and target Disney for its opposition to his policies at the instigation of left-leaning employees. He first garnered their acclaim for his COVID-19 policies, refusing to initiate new lockdowns after June of 2020.
Both candidates have focused on parallel themes in the race, with DeSantis emphasizing his record on the economy, touting the state’s employment growth rate and his policy of tax holidays amidst high nationwide inflation.
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Crist, meanwhile, made “reproductive freedom” a top priority in the race, claiming that he will take executive action to ensure abortion is possible in Florida under his administration.
If DeSantis wins, he will be ineligible for another term as governor due to Florida’s constitutional term limits. As a result, and due additionally to his popularity, he is widely speculated to be a top-tier candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
The University of North Florida poll surveyed 622 likely voters and had an error margin of 4.7%. It is graded “A/B” by FiveThirtyEight for reliability.