Florida Influencer Poll: Session predictions, Trump troubles, DeSantis ’24 and more

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Here's what those in the know see in the tea leaves.

What’s in store for the Legislative Session? When will the Governor get off the pot on 2024? Will the various Donald Trump investigations have a satisfying ending?

Florida Politics asked these questions to a panel including some of the most knowledgeable lobbyists, political consultants and communications pros in the state and found bipartisan consensus on some of the big issues and a split decision on others.

Somehow, the least divisive results were on the topic of abortion.

It was a hot-button issue in the 2022 Legislative Session (when is it not?), and most of the experts in Florida Politics’ poll say the GOP supermajority in the Legislature will push the envelope further next year.

Just 6% say the current 15-week ban will be overturned by the Florida Supreme Court while about a third believe it will be upheld. The other 62% said the current battle will be made moot because the Legislature will shorten the window — Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has already floated a 12-week ban.

A couple of Influencers say that if Republicans go much further in their war on abortion rights, it will backfire.

“A total ban on all abortions — with no exceptions — will be demanded by all the aligned religious conservative groups that have worked tirelessly for this goal outlawing all abortions with strict draconian penalties for those who disobey the law,” one Influencer wrote. “And that overreach, if it becomes law, will be the beginning of the downfall of the Republican Party of Florida.”

Though anti-abortion legislation is likely, it won’t be the central issue of the 2023 Legislative Session. Still, Influencers aren’t sure what the big food fights will be come March.

Florida Politics gave the panel a blank line for them to guess what the surprise issues of Session will be and the responses ran the gamut. Further property insurance snagged a couple of shoutouts, as did affordable housing issues. But there were a handful of oddball red meat issues, too — a crackdown on drag brunches, anyone? The most popular guess was … none, with a seemingly Laodicean tinge.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” one Democrat wrote, likely with a thousand-yard stare.

Now, for the elephant in the room: When will DeSantis launch his presidential campaign? The plurality opinion, shared by 46% of Influencers, is some time over the summer — that’s after Memorial Day but before Labor Day. Another 20% of Influencers say the announcement will drop before then while 24% are predicting the Governor will get going in the fall.

That leaves 9% who think DeSantis will wait until 2024 to officially declare. One solitary Influencer told Florida Politics they do not think the Governor will run at all.

No matter when DeSantis declares, Influencers say DeSantis will use the 2023 Legislative Session to build more street cred with the MAGA base, with one Republican saying to “expect more populism with benefits to teachers, police, working class voters as DeSantis tries to appeal to them.”

Most believe the Legislature will be along for the ride, too.

“This is DeSantis’ legislature whether the legislature (and Renner and Passidomo) like it or not. And it seems they are all on board with him due to political expediency and being afraid of ruffling the Governor’s feathers,” one Influencer said.

DeSantis’ latest headline grabber is the empanelment of a grand jury to go after COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers. It may be a toothless stunt with a dubious foundation, but two in five Influencers say it will result in indictments. Just over a third tell Florida Politics they expect a dozen or fewer while 4% expect even more.

Either way, it’s another bullet point for DeSantis’ CV ahead in the lead-up to 2024.

But what about the other guy? Trump already announced his presidential campaign to little fanfare. In fact, he’s receiving more attention related to a potential criminal indictment than he is as a presidential candidate.

Some circles have been imagining Trump in cuffs since he came down the escalator in 2015. Will that crowd see the series finale be as middling as Lost’s or as satisfying as The Leftovers’? It’s a coin flip.

While, 53% say Trump will not face a criminal indictment, 47% believe he will. Notably, more Republican Influencers than Democratic ones believe Trump will be criminally charged.

“Trump will be indicted but he will still run as he has no shame. Anyone — anyone — who talks about suspending or ignoring our Constitution does not deserve to be U.S. President,” one GOP Influencer said.


The Influencers who took part in this survey: Lester Abberger, Phil Ammann, Gayle Andrews, Ashley Walker, Rick Asnani, Allison Aubuchon, Roger Austin, Mario Bailey, Robert Beck, Geoffrey Becker, Wayne Bertsch, Barney Bishop, Bill Bunkley, Bill Carlson, Kevin Cate, Brad Coker, Gus Corbella, Karen Cyphers, Richard DeNapoli, Pablo Diaz, Víctor Rudy DiMaio, Barry Edwards, Marty Fiorentino, Matt Florell, Shawn Foster, Don Gaetz, Marion Hammer, Abel Harding, Rich Heffley, Cynthia Henderson, Tanya Jackson, Jeff Johnson, David Johnson, Christina Johnson, Fred Karlinsky, Micah Ketchel, Russ Klenet, Kartik Krishnaiyer, Jackie Lee, Beth Lerner, Karis Lockhart, John Lux, Beth Matuga, Kathy Mears, Dan Newman, Sal Nuzzo, Edie Ousley, Alex Patton, Ron Pierce, Evan Power, Noah Pransky, Foyt Ralston, Bert Ralston, Emmett Reed, Marc Reichelderfer, Jim Rimes, Franco Ripple, Evan Ross, Jason Roth, April Schiff, Jack Seiler, Derek Silver, Steve Simeonidis, Kevin Sweeny, Allison Tant, Christian Ulvert, Gregory Ungru, Nancy Watkins, Christian Weiss and Wes Wolfe.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • Lloyd

    December 21, 2022 at 8:42 am

    DeSantis is a douchebag! This committee that he’s creating to punish people for Wright doing in the Covid deaths is a waste of tax payers dollars and they should be outraged, plus he should be yes first in line to go before the committee once they do get started!

  • Ocean Joe

    December 21, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    Good point, especially since he was among the first in line to get the vaccine.

  • James R. Miles

    December 21, 2022 at 8:42 pm

    Gee, two Republicant A-holes wanting to be President. Maybe they could both eat each other and do us all a favor! What a choice!!

Comments are closed.


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