UNF Poll: DeSantis In Voter Honeymoon Period; Marijuana Legalization Support Strong

Mar 5, 2019
Originally published on March 5, 2019 1:27 pm

The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida has a new poll of Florida registered voters that reveals a majority approve of the job Ron DeSantis is doing as governor after he was inaugurated nearly months ago. The survey also shows job approval for Sen. Marco Rubio is higher than job approval for newly elected Sen. Rick Scott.

The poll of registered Florida voters shows approval for Gov. DeSantis at 60 percent overall. The strongest support comes from DeSantis’ own party: 81 percent of registered Republicans approve, versus 45 percent of registered Democrats. Overall, 21 percent don’t know. 

“The question that will play out over the next two months is whether or not he can translate his popularity into policy during the legislative session in Tallahassee,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. “Having unified Republican government should make things easier for the governor, but as we have seen in the past, personal relationships can make or break the budgeting process.”

Additionally, 51 percent of respondents approve either strongly or somewhat of how Rubio is handling his job. Seventy-one percent of Republicans approve, and 36 percent of Democrats approve of the job that he’s doing.

Approval is lower for Scott, with 43 percent overall approving. Republican voters have 64 percent approval for Scott, and Democratic voters have 23 percent.

Concerning Nikki Fried, Florida’s newly elected commissioner of agriculture, 32 percent approve strongly or somewhat of the job she’s doing. Among Democrats, Fried has 33 percent approval, and among Republicans she has 29 percent approval. Overall, 58 percent don’t know how she’s performing.

When asked what they believe is the most important problem facing Florida, education topped the list with 19 percent, followed closely by the environment and health care with 18 and 17 percent, respectively. Answers differed along party lines: Immigration leads the way for Republican voters with 22 percent, and Democrats believe health care is the most important problem, also at 22 percent.

Regarding the U.S. Space Command, 76 percent of registered voters support the Space Command’s being headquartered in Florida, 9 percent oppose, and 15 percent don’t know. Among Democrats, support is at 67 percent, while Republicans have 85 percent support.

When asked about allowing concealed carry on college campuses, 38 percent of registered voters support it, with 58 percent opposing. Democrats report 20 percent support of concealed carry on college campuses, while Republicans report 57 percent support.

On a different note, only 46 percent of voters support allowing teachers and school officials to carry concealed weapons in K-12 schools, with 27 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans supporting it.

“DeSantis’ recent appeals to bring the Space Command headquarters to Florida has tremendous support within the state,” Binder noted. “In a much more controversial policy discussion, guns on college campuses and armed teachers in K-12 schools have more opposition than support.”

Concerning smokable medical marijuana, 87 percent support legalization in Florida, while 12 percent oppose. Democratic voters have 89 percent support, while Republicans have 83 percent support. Similarly, when asked about recreational marijuana use, 62 percent of voters support legalizing it. Sixty-five percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans support the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“Medical marijuana, in all of its forms, has overwhelming support among Florida’s registered voters, Binder commented. “Even recreational marijuana, which has been proposed in the Florida Legislature, has majority support among both Democrats and Republicans.”

Click for details about the methodology of the survey and additional crosstabs by partisanship, sex, education, race, and age from the UNF Public Opinion Research Lab.  

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