Gov. Ron DeSantis heads into his first Legislative Session with the approval of most Floridians, according to a new poll.
The University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab find the new governor with a 60-percent approval rating.
“Gov. DeSantis is enjoying the honeymoon period of recently being elected,” said Dr. Michael Binder, Research Lab faculty director.
“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.”
Looking at voters’ agendas before session, the bulk see education as an important issue, though Republican voters have a particular interest in immigration. There’s bipartisan consensus on allowing medical marijuana to be smoked. But guns at school continues to sharply divide voters.
As far as DeSantis’ standing, 32 percent of respondedents “strongly approve” of his job so far, and 28 percent who “somewhat approve.”
Just 19 percent of voters give the governor bad reviews, the poll shows. About 10 percent “somewhat disapprove” and 9 percent “strongly disapprove.”
Another 21 percent of those surveyed had no opinion.
As expected, the Republican governor enjoys his strongest support among members of his own party.
Among Republicans, 53 percent ‘strongly approve’ and 28 percent ‘somewhat approve’ of DeSantis. Just 7 percent register any level of disapproval.
But he also boasts a net positive rating among Democrats. About 45 percent of Democrats approve of DeSantis, 17 percent ‘strongly’ and 28 percent ‘somewhat.’ About 16 percent ‘somewhat disapprove’ and 13 percent ‘strongly disapprove.’
Heading into session, education tops the priorities list for Florida voters. About 19 percent of voters say that’s the most important issue facing Florida. About 18 percent list environment as their chief priority and 17 percent say health care.
Among Republican respondents, immigration boiled up as the top issue at 22 percent. Among Democrats, health care led other topics, with about 22 percent.
Most voters support DeSantis’ push to get the U.S. Space Force headquartered in Florida; 79 percent support while just 9 percent oppose.
But there’s intense opposition to Republican plans to allow guns on campuses, either at the college or grade school level.
“Guns on college campuses and armed teachers in K-12 schools have more opposition than support,” Binder said.
Only 38 percent of voters strongly or somewhat favor allowing licensed individuals to carry concealed guns at colleges and universities. Meanwhile, 58 percent of voters oppose the policy, 44 percent strongly so.
But among Republicans, 55 percent of voters support the policy, while among Democrats 77 oppose it.
Arming teachers at K-12 schools actually proves less controversial, but only slightly so. About 46 percent support that policy, 26 percent strongly. But again, 44 percent of voters strongly oppose the idea and another 10 percent somewhat oppose.
Again, the poll found sharp partisan division. Some 68 percent of Republican respondents favor arming teachers, while 73 percent of Democrats oppose doing so.
But smoking medical cannabis proved popular regardless of party identity.
About 87 percent of voters favor legalizing smokeable marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. That includes 89 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of Republicans.