Gov. Ron DeSantis’ popularity among Florida voters continues to grow. The latest Mason Dixon poll released Thursday morning shows DeSantis with a 62 percent approval rating, with only 24% disapproving of his performance and 12% still unsure.
“That is remarkably high,” said Mac Stipanovich, longtime Republican strategist and former chief of staff for Gov. Jeb Bush, when told of the poll results.
“It’s on the order of popularity Charlie Crist enjoyed in his tenure and much better than certainly Gov. (Rick) Scott had at this point in his first term.”
What makes the poll results stand out is the popularity the governor is enjoying among Democrats. In the Democratic stronghold of Southeast Florida, DeSantis received a 53 percent approval rating, while statewide his popularity among Democrats is split at 41 percent.
“He’s having quite a honeymoon here and deservedly so,” Stipanovich said. “He made some good moves. Made some excellent appointments. And hasn’t done anything that’s been too divisive yet.”
But, Stipanovich says its still earlly in the DeSantis administration and adds approval ratings are a general attitude about a politician and not an indication about how a voter will actually vote.
“My approval rating within my family is pretty high,” he says. “Until I post it up against my wife, the grandmother, in which I don’t look so good.”
Stipanovich credits DeSantis’ approach to governing for his early success. He says the governor has shown an openness to the public and the press, launched popular initiatives and engaged in effective, popular “public relations gambits.”
“He’s proven to be a very able communicator,” Stipanovich said. “He’s proven himself to be a much better politician than his predecessor.”
And that, says Stipanovich, comes as somewhat of a surprise given DeSantis’ approach as a politician during last year’s gubernatorial election.
“During the campaign, I don’t know whether it was inadvertent or strategic, his campaign was one-dimensional. Well it was actually one-and-a-half-dimensional” he said. “Donald Trump loved him and he wasn’t Andrew Gillum. That was it.”
Stipanovich says it was hard to believe that an Ivy League school graduate, a Navy veteran and former member of Congress, could be as one-dimensional as DeSantis was as a candidate.
“It just seemed improbable and it was improbable,” Stipanovich said. “There’s much more depth and nuance to him than that.”
DeSantis’ popularity, if it continues, provides hope to Republicans and President Donald Trump as they prepare for the 2020 election. Once again, Florida is considered to be an important swing state next year. Having someone from your own party in the governor’s office is seen as an advantage in a presidential race, having a popular governor in office is an added bonus.
But, Stipanovich, who does not support Trump, doesn’t believe DeSantis’ popularity will make much of a difference in Florida in next year’s election.
“In this particular case, there’s nobody in Florida in doubt about the way they feel about Donald Trump,” said Stipanovich. “It’s highly doubtful how they feel about Ron DeSantis will change that.
“You can use me as an example. I am pleasantly surprised and positively affected by Gov. DeSantis’ performance thus far. It has not changed my opposition to President Trump one wit.”
The Mason & Dixon poll surveyed 625 registered voters from March 18 to 20 and has a margin of error of 4 percent.