Gov. Ron DeSantis is sitting pretty with a nearly double-digit lead over his nearest 2022 challenger, according to a new poll.
Polling from Political Matrix/The Listener Group released Wednesday put the first-term Republican Governor in head-to-head matchups against U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the two Democrats vying for their party’s nomination.
Crist, who was elected Governor in 2006 as a Republican, polls the closest to DeSantis, but is still down 45% to 55%. Fried, the only Democrat to win a statewide election in Florida since 2012, is down by a considerable 22-point margin, 39% to 61%.
The bulk of Fried’s deficit to Crist appears rooted in support from Democrats. And that could be attributed to Crist’s advantage in name recognition.
In both matchups, 89% of Republicans stood by DeSantis. Crist wasn’t far behind in same-party support with 83%, but Fried performed considerably worse. She garnered the support of only 69% of Democrats while DeSantis nabbed the remaining 31%.
Crist’s history as a former Republican didn’t give him an advantage in that electorate, but it possibly earned him support among those with no party affiliation. Crist still trailed DeSantis among that group 47% to 53%, and Fried performed slightly worse, 44% to 56%.
Against both potential opponents, DeSantis’ lead is outside the poll’s 3.66% margin of error. The poll includes responses from 716 likely voters, called on landlines between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday.
DeSantis performed similarly in a head-to-head poll last month. And last week, a separate Political Matrix/The Listener Group poll showed Crist leading Fried in the Democratic Primary by just over 10 points, with 29% still undecided.
There’s plenty of time for DeSantis’ lead to shift with more than a year before Election Day.
Crist announced his third gubernatorial campaign last month. In his last race in 2014, he ran as a Democrat and lost to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott by 1 point.
At the start of this month, Fried formalized her campaign. In 2018, she was elected Agriculture Commissioner over then-State Rep. Matt Caldwell by less than a 10th of a point.
The Listener Group is based in Pensacola. The firm in 2020 focused its polling efforts in the Panhandle, where it predicted most races surveyed accurately.