Florida Influencer Poll: 2020 Legislative Session predictions

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DeSantis and teachers are expected to be the big winners.

The 2020 Legislative Session has only just begun, but the most plugged-in people in Tallahassee already have some ideas about who’ll emerge as the ultimate winner in mid-March.

The most popular pick is the popular-as-ever Gov. Ron DeSantis. A full two-thirds of Florida Influencers, including 60% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans, say DeSantis will end up getting most of what he wants come Sine Die.

If he does, there’ll be plenty of tertiary winners — teachers and the environment, to name a couple.

Coming in second was Senate President Bill Galvano, with one in six Influencers saying the Bradenton Republican’s final Legislative Session will go down as one of his best.

House Speaker José Oliva, who was undoubtedly a major winner coming out of the 2019 Legislative Session, faces long odds on the two-peat. Just 10% of Influencers think he’ll emerge as triumphantly in 2020.

Just because you’re not a winner doesn’t make you a loser. Unless you’re DeSantis, Galvano or Oliva, that is. The top-3 on the winner prediction also had strong showings on the loser side of things.

Of the trio, Influencers say Oliva is the most likely to leave Tallahassee disappointed — about a third think that will happen. Meanwhile, a quarter says Galvano will end his legislative career with a fizzle.

DeSantis? Only 8% believe the Governor — who got nearly everything he asked for in the 2019 Legislative Session — will see a sophomore slump.

The remaining 35% of Influencers were fractured on who’ll take the biggest beating over the next 60 days.

Democrats were a popular pick among that crowd, with Minority Leader Kionne McGhee getting a couple of votes of his own. Other mentions: Amendment 4 voters, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Hospitals and local governments.

Patronis was the lone Cabinet member mentioned in the loser section and likewise, he ranked third when Florida Politics asked the Influencers which of he, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried would have the best Session.

Moody was the favorite with 43 percent — including half of Republicans and all no-party Influencers — saying she was their pick to win. Fried was a little behind at 38%, with her support bolstered by 60% of Democrats and a quarter of Republicans. The balance went to Patronis.

It’s one thing to win or lose in a policy debate, it’s something quite different to get snubbed out of an expected $91 billion budget. But no matter how much money lawmakers include in the 2020-21 spending plan, they can’t satisfy everyone.

Coming in first on the winner list are teachers — during the “Year of the Teacher” no less.

Lawmakers are considering a plan by DeSantis that would put $600 million into boosting teacher salaries. More than 40% of Influencers, including a third of Democrats and 51% of Republicans, think the idea will become a reality.

Infrastructure is next up at 36%, while doctors and hospitals, insurance companies and other interests split the remnants.

As far as budget losers, doctors and hospitals lead the way with more than a third of Influencers expecting 2020 to be unkind to the health care industry. Another quarter of Influencers think insurers will have the worst year.

About a quarter of Influencers also think teachers will end up losing out despite the Governor’s lofty goals. That extends to a third of Democrats, 15% of Republicans and 40% of NPAs.

With the 2020 elections fast approaching, why not focus on 2022? According to Florida Influencers, the Legislative Session could boost the stock for DeSantis’ challenger in his reelection campaign.

The most popular pick is Fried, who is the obvious choice as the only statewide elected Democrat. She takes 64% of the vote.

Andrew Gillum and Gwen Graham also made the list, but they weren’t in the No. 2 slot. That went to state Sen. Lauren Book — 10% of Democrats, 22% of Republicans and 40% of NPAs say she’ll be the front-runner for the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial nomination once Session wraps.

And, finally, the most important question of all: Will the 2020 Legislative Session end on time?

More than 90% of Influencers — 86% of Democrats, 97% of Republicans and all NPAs — don’t envision it going into overtime. Just 7%, most of them Democrats, say they won’t be planning their post-Session vacation just yet.

The Florida Influencer Poll is conducted monthly and solicits opinions on current events from the state’s top consultants, fundraisers, PR mavens, lobbyists and staffers.

Those who fancy themselves as “Influencers” and want to take part in future polls can send an email to [email protected].


The Influencers who took part in this survey are: Tom Alte, Jason Altmire, Phil Ammann, Allison Aubuchon, Roger Austin, Tim Baker, Geoffrey Becker, Wayne Bertsch, Amanda Bevis, David Biddle, Taylor Biehl, Ron Bilbao, Katie Bohnett, Ron Book, Matt Brockelman, Bill Carlson, Kevin Cate, Clayton Clemens, Brad Coker, Rachel Cone, Jordan Connors, Josh Cooper, Gus Corbella, Javi Correoso, Kevin Craig, Husein Cumber, Karen Cyphers, Jim Daughton, Claudia Davant, Mark Delegal, Hayden Dempsey, Richard DeNapoli, Pablo Diaz, Víctor DiMaio, Andrew Dolberg, Charles Dudley, Pete Dunbar, Barry Edwards, Mark Ferrulo, Matt Florell, Don Gaetz, Pamela Goodman, Jennifer Green, Joel Greenberg, Joe Gruters, Marion Hammer, Rich Heffley, Tasi Hogan, Jim Horne, Erin Isaac, Lila Jaber, Yolanda Jackson, Nick Janovsky, Jeff Johnson, Christina Johnson, David Johnson, Eric Jotkoff, Fred Karlinsky, Joshua Karp, Micah Ketchel, John Konkus, Jessica Landsberg, Jackie Lee, Beth Lerner, McKinley Lewis, Shannon Love, John Lux, Beth Matuga, Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick, Kathy Mears, Ed Moore, Tim Nungesser, Rhett O’Doski, Rick Oppenheim, Edie Ousley, Jenna Paladino, Alex Patton, Darryl Paulson, Anthony Pedicini, Juan Penalosa, Sean Phillippi, Fred Piccolo, Gretchen Picotte, Ron Pierce, Evan Power, Cissy Proctor, Foyt Ralston, Next Ralston, Marc Reichelderfer, Jim Rimes, Franco Ripple, Stephanie Rosendorf-Diaz, Evan Ross, Andrew Rutledge, Ron Sachs, Meagan Salisbury, Nanette Schimpf, Pierce Schuessler, Jack Seiler, Stephen Shiver, Alex Sink, Eileen Stuart, Sarah Suskey, Brad Swanson, Herbie Thiele, Cory Tilley, Kyle Ulrich, Christian Ulvert, Jennifer Ungru, Steven Vancore, Dave Vasquez, Ashley Walker, Screven Watson, Christian Weiss, Doug Wheeler, Andrew Wiggins, Rick Wilson, Michael Worley.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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