Poll shows Ron DeSantis leading all Democrats, Charlie Crist topping primary field
Charlie Crist takes his cue from Ron DeSantis on School Board races.

Crist DeSantis
About four in 10 voters have no opinion on Val Demings or Nikki Fried, Victory Insights found.

A new poll shows Gov. Ron DeSantis narrowly leading all three high-profile Democrats he may face next November. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist boasts the best chance at winning the Democratic nomination for Governor and — just barely — puts up the best showing against DeSantis.

Victory Insights, a national polling firm with a presence in Naples, polled more than 600 Floridians on Tuesday, the same day Crist announced he would run for Governor this cycle. But the firm also surveyed voters’ thoughts on two other likely Democratic candidates: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Val Demings.

DeSantis leads all three candidates in head-to-head matchups. His narrowest lead came against Crist, a former Republican Governor-turned-Democratic Congressman. The poll found DeSantis up 53% to Crist’s 47% in a hypothetical matchup. That still falls within the poll’s 4.1% margin of error, but demonstrates a clear lead for the Republican Governor.

Fried, Florida’s only Democrat holding statewide office, performed at almost the same level as Crist. The poll finds DeSantis leads Fried about 53% to 47%, with a fine look at the numbers showing Fried getting just 0.3% less support from survey respondents than Crist.

Both do better than Demings. The poll finds DeSantis beating the Orlando Democrat 54% to 46%.

While the three Democrats perform at roughly the same level in the head-to-heads, Crist goes into a hypothetical Democratic primary with a clear edge, according to the poll. Just the Democrats were polled on their preference between the three candidates, and 53% supported Crist, compared to 30% who favor Demings and 17% who like Fried.

The polling with the smaller pool of voters had a 7% margin of error, but Crist still holds a lead outside that.

Two big takeaways from the polling stand out.

The first is that pretty much any major Democrat holds the same standing against DeSantis, indicating the race for the moment remains a referendum on the incumbent. There, DeSantis enters the campaign a favorite for reelection, but not necessarily a lock.

The second is that Crist starts a likely primary with far greater name recognition than his possible competitors. That’s bolstered by approval numbers on all four candidates included in the poll. More than who voters like or don’t like, the most striking element there comes among those with no opinion on some candidates.

A full 40% of those polled feel neutral about Fried, and 38% hold no opinion on Demings. That shows many haven’t heard of or paid any significant attention to those Democratic candidates. By comparison, only 7% had no opinion on Crist. Just 2% had nothing to say about DeSantis.

Crist has the strongest favorables among the Democrats, with 55% of those surveyed holding a somewhat or very favorable opinion of him. But he also has the strongest unfavorables, with 39% giving a somewhat or very bad score.

By comparison, Demings had 32% give her a very favorable rating, higher than Crist or Fried, with another 17% giving her a somewhat favorable rating. Just 13% rated her somewhat unfavorably and not one person polled rated Demings as very unfavorable.

About 37% of those polled gave Fried a very or somewhat favorable rating and 24% graded her as somewhat or very unfavorable.

As for DeSantis, the poll showed the Governor a polarizing figure, but suggests he’s benefiting from that. About 49% of those polled view DeSantis very favorably, nearly a majority in its own right. Another 8% grade him somewhat favorably. He also elicits strong feelings on the other end, with 28% grading him very unfavorably and 13% somewhat unfavorably.

Unsurprising, the partisan breakdown shows DeSantis performing best with his base. About 76% of Republicans polled give him the highest marks. Meanwhile, only 43% of Democrats do the same for Crist or Demings, and 26% give top marks to Fried.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Beth

    May 6, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    Allow me to correct. I’m sure DeSantis is leading among racists, criminals, traitors, lunatics, and assorted degenerates. His kind of people.

    • zhombre

      May 8, 2021 at 8:16 am

      You’re completely full of crap.

  • James

    May 8, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    If DeSantis leads Crist 53-47%, then how do you come to the conclusion that it falls WITHIN the poll’s 4.1-point margin of error

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn