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Gov. DeSantis gets strong marks in first statewide poll

He has the best favorable and unfavorable ratings of any statewide elected Republican in the poll.
SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
New Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gives the crowd the thumbs up as he holds his son Mason. Florida's First Lady Casey De Santis applauds, left at the Old Capitol after DeSantis was sworn in, Tuesday, January 8, 2019 in Tallahassee.
SCOTT KEELER | Times New Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gives the crowd the thumbs up as he holds his son Mason. Florida's First Lady Casey De Santis applauds, left at the Old Capitol after DeSantis was sworn in, Tuesday, January 8, 2019 in Tallahassee.
Published Jan. 24, 2019

Florida’s new governor has spent his first three weeks making news across the state, and one poll, at least, shows it seems to be going over well with voters.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has the best favorable and unfavorable ratings of any statewide elected Republican, according to a statewide poll of 625 Floridians who are registered to vote.

Forty-eight percent of respondents viewed him favorably, compared to 17 percent who didn’t. Another 31 percent were neutral. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wasn’t far behind, with percentages of 44/23/32.

“He’s obviously getting a little bit of a honeymoon period,” said Brad Coker, the managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, which conducted the poll.

The poll’s margin of error plus or minus four percentage points. Sixty percent of respondents were contacted by landline, the rest by cell phone between Jan. 14 and Jan. 17, Coker said.

Coker noted that DeSantis' favorable rating was up nine percentage points since the election, when he squeaked by Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum. And his unfavorable rating since then has been cut in half, from 34 percent to 17 percent.

The Republican governor has spent his first three weeks moving around the state and winning praise from Democrats on issues like the environment, his Supreme Court picks and smokable marijuana.

DeSantis' unfavorable rating among the 225 Democrats in the poll was surprisingly low, Coker noted. Just 40 percent found him unfavorable, 40 percent were neutral and 16 percent found him favorable.

“He’s been making news on a regular basis, and I think he’s distancing himself from (Sen.) Rick Scott, distancing himself from President (Donald) Trump,” Coker said.

Scott and Trump didn’t fare nearly as well in the poll. Only 42 percent of respondents found both politicians favorable, while 38 percent found Scott unfavorable and 45 percent found Trump unfavorable.

Given a chance to re-elect Trump in 2020 or replace him with a Democrat, the poll’s respondents were basically split at 46-45, respectively. Another 9 percent were undecided.

Whether DeSantis' numbers will hold up, however, remains to be seen.

“So far, I think he’s probably surprised a few people,” Coker said.

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