Latest UNF poll shows Ron DeSantis leading in 2022 race for Florida governor

The University of North Florida recently conducted a poll of registered Florida voters to see who’d they vote for as the next governor, among other topics.

Poll results show that Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis has a wide lead ahead of both Democrat candidates Rep. Charlie Crist and Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried for this year’s gubernatorial election.

‘We’re seeing a very wide margin for DeSantis against both top Democratic candidates’

If the election was held today and DeSantis and Crist were the candidates, 55% of people said they would vote for DeSantis, with 34% saying they would vote for Crist, and 11% were not sure or refused.

If the race came down between Fried and DeSantis, again 55% said they would vote for DeSantis, 32% for Fried, and 12% were not sure or refused.

“We’re seeing a very wide margin for DeSantis against both top Democratic candidates — Crist and Fried,” Dr. Michael Binder, a professor of political science, 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.”

Besides DeSantis, Republicans John Mercadante and Donald Peterson have also entered the race.

“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.”

The poll asked registered Democrats who they’d vote for if the Democratic primary for governor were held today.

Survey results show Crist on top at 27%, followed by Nikki Fried with 19%.

Outside of Crist and Fried, here are the other Democrats who have entered the race for governor:

  • Cadance Daniel
  • David Freeman
  • Ivan Graham
  • Jonathan Karns
  • Amaro Lionheart
  • Alexander Lundmark
  • Annette Taddeo
  • Robert Willis
  • Randy Zapata

Taddeo and Freeman each received 4% of the vote. Only 1% of the people surveyed said they’d vote for Lionheart and 3% said someone else.

UNF found that 38% of people are undecided.

“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,” Binder said.

Rubio vs. Demings

The same survey also asked about the election for U.S. senator from Florida. If it were held today between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio or Democrat Val Demings, Binder said results show that Rubio is leading by 12%. He believes it’s probably due to name recognition.

Survey results showed 46% of people would vote for Rubio, 34% indicated a vote for Demings, 17% said they were unsure and 3% refused.

“The 17% who don’t know are the ones to look out for in the coming months, as campaigning starts to ramp up for both candidates,” Binder said.

“With a lot of speculation about a possible presidential bid from DeSantis, we thought this would be an interesting hypothetical’

UNF asked registered Republicans about a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary between former President Donald Trump and DeSantis.

If they were the two candidates if the election was held today, the survey asked who would they vote for. The results were close: 44% said they would vote for DeSantis, 41% said they’d vote for Trump.

Seven percent said they didn’t know, 6% refused and 2% said they’d vote for someone else.

“With a lot of speculation about a possible presidential bid from DeSantis, we thought this would be an interesting hypothetical,” Binder said. “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.”

DeSantis’ approval rating

Of all the elected officials mentioned in the survey, DeSantis has the highest job approval rating at 58%.

Thirty-seven percent of people surveyed disapproved and 6% didn’t know or refused.

“DeSantis’ approval is up by 10 percentage points from last time we asked, back in October of 2020,” Binder said. “Fried’s approval has remained largely steady since our February of 2020 poll, and the ‘don’t knows’ have gone down some, but folks still seem to be pretty unsure.”

Is Fried doing a good job?

The poll asked people about the job Fried is doing as Florida agricultural commissioner.

Forty-nine percent of people said they don’t know, 31% said they approve and 18% said they disapprove of the job she’s doing.

To read more on this survey, click here. For other polls conducted by UNF, visit its Public Opinion Research Laboratory page.


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Aurielle Eady

Aurielle Eady, Action News Jax

Aurielle Eady is a digital content producer for Action News Jax.