If Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wins the Democratic nomination for Governor, incumbent Ron DeSantis remains the favorite for reelection. But he still doesn’t have the support of a majority of voters, and she’s within striking distance of the incumbent more than a year out from the vote.
That’s according to a new survey by St. Pete Polls. More than 45% of respondents would vote to reelect DeSantis to a second term in a head-to-head matchup between the two statewide elected officials, while just under 42% would pick Fried.
Fried, the only Democrat holding statewide office, announced earlier this year she would challenge DeSantis instead of seeking another term at her current post.
Pollsters included respondents from a substantial number of likely voters, 3,952 of them. That gives pollsters high confidence in results in the head-to-head, and they report just a 1.6% margin of error. That puts DeSantis’ lead just barely outside the margin.
The same poll found U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, the other major Democratic candidate in the race, with a narrow 45% to 44% lead over DeSantis.
More than 13% of voters remain undecided in their choice between Fried and DeSantis, a higher percentage of unsure voters than in the Crist-DeSantis matchup. That may indicate voters have less familiarity with Fried than Crist, a three-term Congressman and former Governor.
But there’s also a greater partisan loyalty toward DeSantis than Fried, the only Democrat now holding statewide office. About 68% of Democrats would vote for Fried, compared to 75% of Republicans who stick with DeSantis. Both candidates swipe about 17% support among the opposition party, but 15% of Democrats remain on the fence while only 8% of Republicans would be undecided in this matchup.
Of note, while Fried would be Florida’s first woman elected Governor, she performs better among men than women. More than 42% of male voters pick Fried, while just 41% of female voters prefer her over DeSantis. DeSantis boasts support from 46% of male voters and 45% of women.
But among voters under the age of 50, Fried leads the Governor. If only voters under 30 get included in the results, the Democrat holds a 48% to 40% lead. Voters older than 30 but younger than 50 break her way by a 45% to 42% margin.
But DeSantis leads among voters over 50 and younger than 70 by the same 45% to 42% gap, and among older voters, he wins more than 51% of the vote, and Fried takes just around 35%