Florida GOPs DeSantis, Rubio lead Democrats Crist, Demings: poll

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Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, speaks during a ‘Keep Florida Free’ rally with Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, in Hialeah, Florida, U.S., Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Florida’s Republican leaders, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, have taken a significant lead over their Democratic challengers less than two months before November’s midterm elections, a new poll showed on Monday.

DeSantis has an 8 percentage point lead, 49%-41%, over former Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, according to the Spectrum News/Siena College poll of 669 likely Florida voters. DeSantis is widely considered a top contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — perhaps second only to former President Donald Trump.

Rubio leads his Democratic rival, Rep. Val Demings, by 7 points, 48%-41%, the survey showed.

The spreads in both of those races exceeded the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points. Respondents were contacted via landline and cell phone in English and Spanish, according to the Siena College Research Institute.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 18 to Sept. 25 ahead of the impact of Hurricane Ian, which hit parts of Florida’s western coastline last week when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm. The hurricane passed dozens diedwith the death toll still rising Monday morning, and millions at least temporarily without power or clean water.

Ian’s approach, and the devastation in its wake, has put a spotlight on DeSantis’ leadership, including his switch to a more collegial tone with the Biden administration when he requested emergency aid. Otherwise, the governor has largely deployed an aggressive rhetorical style and a willingness to wade into politically animating culture war issues.

Days before Ian emerged as a major threat to Florida, DeSantis was in the news over his administration’s decision to send planes filled with dozens of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Critics dismissed the move as a stunt that used people as props. But the Siena poll found a majority of respondents, 49%-44%, supported the state sending migrants from Florida to other states.

While the ballot question asked about migrants from Florida, DeSantis’ program allegedly relocated migrants who were seeking asylum in Texas.

Overall, Florida likely voters identified economic issues as their top area of ​​concern for the midterms. A plurality of Democratic respondents ranked “threats to democracy” as their No. 1 problem.

More than a third of Democrats also chose abortion as either their first or second choice on the list of top issues.

“While abortion does not make the top seven topics for men, it is the second most important issue for women,” Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, said in a statement.

More than 90% of Democratic respondents said they opposed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protected the federal right to abortion. An overall majority of voters, 57%-34%, opposed the conservative court’s ruling, although GOP respondents said they support it by a 3-to-1 margin.

Siena’s poll also showed Ashley Moody, Florida’s Republican attorney general, leading Democratic candidate Aramis Ayala, 41%-34%.

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