By Jim EllisMarch 3, 2021 — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is quickly becoming a national talking point with regard to the 2024 presidential campaign, but he first must further prove himself with a 2022 re-election victory in the always politically close Sunshine State.
Over the weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Gov. DeSantis was clearly the choice of the conservative base as a potential heir-apparent to former President Donald Trump.
In the future presidential straw poll, former President Trump placed first among the several thousand individuals who participated. He took 55 percent of the first-place ranked choice votes. Gov. DeSantis was a clear second pick, however, with 24 percent. Without Trump in the field, it was Gov. DeSantis running away with the lead, capturing 43 percent with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem a distant 11 percent second-place finisher. Donald Trump, Jr. followed with eight percent support.
Just after CPAC, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research released the findings from their Florida poll conducted during the Feb. 24-28 period. The organization surveyed 625 registered Sunshine State voters through a live interview process.
According to the M-D results, Gov. DeSantis’ job approval rating has improved to 53:42 percent favorable to unfavorable, a net 15-point gain from his standing in the July 2020 M-D survey that found him saddled with an upside-down ratio of 45:49 percent.
The job approval ratings are a precursor to his ballot test standing opposite a prospective Democratic gubernatorial nominee, of whom the two leading choices appear to be State Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Nikki Fried and US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) who may make his third run for governor.
From 2007-11, Crist was governor of the state, but served as a Republican. He switched parties after a failed run for the US Senate as an Independent, and won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014, but lost to then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the general election.