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DeSantis’s policies get some mixed reviews … from DeSantis supporters



It is fair to assume that some significant part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s high-profile, combative policy moves over the past two years have been undertaken with an eye toward the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Some part, certainly, is a reflection of his political views. But the guy who won the Republican gubernatorial primary in his state in 2018 by drawing over-the-top comparisons between himself and Donald Trump might be assumed to also be thinking about the political utility of his efforts.

There’s just one catch: New polling suggests that those policies get mixed reviews from Republicans, including Republicans who support DeSantis. What’s more, for a candidate whose central value proposition to primary voters might be that he is more electable in a general election, his policies get broadly negative views from Americans overall.

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YouGov recently conducted a national poll for Yahoo News looking at a number of DeSantis’s most prominent policies and proposals.

Before asking about each idea, the pollsters asked respondents whether they might vote for DeSantis or Donald Trump in 2024. Overall, respondents were slightly more open to supporting DeSantis than Trump, though, among Republicans, the figures were similar.


Then the pollsters presented eight different proposals without mentioning DeSantis. For seven of the eight, more Americans said they opposed the ideas than said they supported them. The only exception was a proposal to ban transgender women from playing on women’s or girls’ sports teams at public schools.

Republicans only supported six of the ideas on net, the exceptions being allowing concealed carrying of firearms without a permit and allowing political appointees to fire tenured university staff. Even those who indicated that they planned to vote in the Republican primary for DeSantis disagreed with those policies. A proposal to mandate screening of books in school libraries was viewed about evenly by DeSantis backers.

Interestingly, Trump primary supporters were more enthusiastic than DeSantis supporters on four of the policies — including the one about firing tenured staff. Of course, we’re talking about small slices of the electorate here, so the margins of error are wide. It’s also worth noting that part of DeSantis’s presumed intent here is to peel away Trump supporters.

After asking about this battery of proposals, the pollsters did something very useful: They again asked whether respondents would be willing to back DeSantis.

This is how polling works in campaigns. The pollsters measure initial support, present rhetoric for or against a candidate and then measure support again. The goal is to get a sense of how much particular arguments move support for a candidate.

In this case, there was some movement. Unfortunately for the Florida governor, it was among his supporters — away from him.

Respondents were given several options when asked if they would vote for DeSantis in a hypothetical general election contest including if they’d definitely vote for him, if they might vote for him or if they would definitely not vote for him. Among most groups, there wasn’t much change in the percentage of who said they would definitely vote for him and only a small shift away when the “might vote for” group was added in. Among DeSantis supporters, there was a big chunk of movement from “will vote” (down 11 points) to “might vote” (up 8 points).


It’s somewhat surprising that his overall support didn’t change after hearing the battery of proposals. It suggests, perhaps, that such positions are baked into existing views of DeSantis. In other words, the idea that his views would damage him in the general election might already be reflected in his poll numbers.

But the effect on those who planned to vote for him is remarkable. Whatever DeSantis’s motivations for his proposals, it’s safe to assume that his goal was not to have the enthusiasm of his supporters drop after hearing about them.

Source: Washington Post

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