Poll: Ron DeSantis might be a dud in Florida, but Sunshine State voters still prefer him to Joe Biden

A new poll taken by Mainstreet Research for Florida Atlantic University (FAU) surveyed Florida voters extensively on candidate favorability, voting plans, and various election- and issue-related themes. The top line takeaways are clear: Florida voters prefer former President Donald Trump over Gov. Ron DeSantis, but they’d take either over President Joe Biden, and Biden’s age might have a bit to do with it.

Trump commands the Primary, with 61% support compared to just 20% for DeSantis. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is in third with 9%. This is an important number for Trump because Florida is a winner-take-all Primary state that will deliver nearly 10% of the delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination.

Even when asking voters to decide between just Trump and DeSantis, Trump is way on top at 63% to 30%.

This comes despite DeSantis coming in slightly above water on sentiments related to his job performance, while Trump is underwater on favorability.

Half of voters approve of DeSantis’ job performance, including 38% who strongly approve. Slightly fewer, 49%, disapprove, including 41% who do so strongly.

Trump’s favorability is underwater among polled Florida voters, with 55% having an unfavorable opinion of the former President. Only 43% have a positive opinion on Trump.

While DeSantis may have better numbers on favorability/job performance metrics, it’s still difficult to see any path to victory for him in Florida in the GOP Presidential Primary.

Intelligent people can debate why Florida’s Governor has failed to make headway against Trump in his home state, but the FAU poll suggests it might have something to do with Trump defying odds that have nothing to do with DeSantis.

Pollsters asked voters about age. Biden is 80 years old, and about to turn 81. Trump, at 77 years old, isn’t far behind, and both men would end their presidencies solidly into their 80s if elected.

But people care way more about Biden’s age than Trump’s — 67% of respondents said Biden is too old to be President, while only 33% said the same of Trump.

Perhaps it’s because Biden seems older. Asked how old they thought the current President is, 61% correctly indicated he was between 80 and 84 years old. But 7% thought he was older.

The numbers weren’t all that different for Trump, with 63% correctly indicating his age and 7% guessing that he was older than he is. But of those 7% shares for both men, only Biden had a 2% chunk of the electorate who thought he was over 90.

Still, the guesses indicate people largely know both candidates’ ages, and continue to think by larger margins that age is more of an issue for Biden than it is for Trump.

The former President also defies odds when it comes to his several ongoing criminal proceedings stemming from hush money payments to an adult film star, mishandling classified documents and his role in the Jan. 6th Capitol riots.

Asked what personality trait they value most in a presidential candidate, integrity was the top choice, at 41%.

But more people are concerned with the congressional inquiry into Biden and his son, Hunter, than they are with the pending criminal proceedings against Trump. A total of 52% of respondents said Trump’s legal woes were either somewhat or very important, while 46% said they were either not very important or not important at all.

Compare that to Joe Biden and it’s clear there are some differences. There, 55% think the inquiries are somewhat or very important — 3 percentage points more than Trump — and only 44% said they are either not very important or not important at all — 2 percentage points less than Trump.

The poll was conducted among 946 adults living in Florida from Oct. 27 through Nov. 11 using text messages sent to random registered Florida voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

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