Former President Donald Trump is leading Florida Governor Ron DeSantis by 39 points in his own state.
The University of North Florida (UNF) poll, released on Tuesday, found that just 21 percent of likely Republican voters support DeSantis statewide.
“When given a list of possible candidates, 60% of respondents indicated a vote for Donald Trump, followed by 21% for Ron DeSantis in a distant second place,” the pollsters reported. “Nikki Haley came in third with 6%, followed by Chris Christie with 2%, and Vivek Ramaswamy with 1%. The remaining candidates each received less than 1%. Eight percent of respondents said they do not know or refused to answer.”
When the field was narrowed to only Trump or DeSantis in a hypothetical head-to-head race, 59 percent said that they would pick Trump and 29 percent said they would vote for the governor. Another 12 percent said that they did not know or refused to answer.
“Despite historically high approval in the polls, Governor DeSantis losing steam in his home state doesn’t bode well for his national campaign,” commented Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and professor of political science. “Even if you wipe out the rest of the competition in a head-to-head, Trump leads DeSantis by 20 points.”
When asked about Trump’s actions following the 2020 election, 71 percent of the likely voters said the statement, “he was just exercising his right to contest the election,” was the closest to their view. Just 16 percent said they aligned best with the statement “he went so far that he threatened American democracy.” Fourteen percent did not respond.
“Given the support for Trump in the upcoming election, it’s not surprising that most of these voters think he was within his rights to contest the election,” commented Binder. “Interestingly, the 16% who think he threatened democracy tend to favor DeSantis narrowly over Nikki Haley.”
The pollsters also questioned voters about the state’s 2026 gubernatorial election preferences. A massive 40 percent said that they did not know who they would vote for, but 22 percent said that they would choose Florida’s current First Lady Casey DeSantis. Reps. Byron Donalds and Matt Gaetz both had support from nine percent of those surveyed.
“We’re obviously still a ways out from the Governor’s race, and this pool of candidates will certainly change before 2026,” commented Binder. “For now, it seems Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis is an early favorite among Republican primary voters – wouldn’t that be interesting, potentially having the DeSantises in the governor’s mansion for another 11 years.”
The UNF PORL Florida Statewide Poll was conducted from October 23 through November 4, 2023, by the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida, and consists of a sample of 788 registered, Republican voters who are likely to vote in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.