Chamber poll: Floridians still positive on DeSantis, down on Biden; recreational marijuana could face difficult path forward

by | Jan 12, 2024

A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll shows Gov. Ron DeSantis remaining afloat on favorability among Florida voters, contrasting with unfavorable ratings for President Joe Biden. The poll also indicates varied voter concerns and lower-than-required support for recreational marijuana legalization.

A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll conducted by Cherry Communication and published on Friday shows Gov. Ron DeSantis holding a 50 percent favorability rating among Florida voters.

The Florida governor garnered particularly strong support among Florida Hispanics, with a 52 percent favorability rate, and state Republicans, 86 percent of whom held positive views of DeSantis.

Conversely, President Joe Biden faces a challenging path in Florida. According to the poll, 59 percent of Florida voters hold an unfavorable view of Biden. The disapproval spans across a wide breadth of demographic groups, including 91 percent of Republican voters, 58 percent of those unaffiliated with a party, and 67 percent of Hispanic voters. Within his own party, 26 percent of polled Democrats viewed Biden unfavorably.

Regarding voter registration, the poll reveals a significant increase in Republican registration over Democrats. The current Republican advantage is nearly 700,000 more registered voters, marking a shift from a Democratic lead as recent as October 2021.

The poll also highlights the primary concerns of various voter groups in Florida. Education is the top issue for female, Democratic, and NPA voters, while male voters are most concerned about property insurance. For Republican voters, illegal immigration is the main issue.

In terms of recreational marijuana legalization, the poll finds that support in Florida is below the required 60 percent for passage, with only 57 percent of voters in favor.

A proposed constitutional amendment, backed by Smart & Safe Florida and heavily funded by cannabis retailer Trulieve, aims to permit adults aged 21 and older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products for non-medical use. The measure has received enough signatures to appear on 2024 ballots, pending an ongoing state Supreme Court review.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has taken stances against the ballot initiative and filed a legal brief in opposition to support Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office, which is actively fighting against the measure. Moody argues that the wording would create confusion by stating that marijuana use would be “allowed” while remaining federally illegal.

“With 144 amendments since its creation in 1968, Florida’s constitution has long been a target of special interest groups with agendas and recreational marijuana is no different,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mark Wilson in the poll release. “The Florida Chamber continues to lead the fight it has fought for over 100 years against similar proposed amendments that could be addressed legislatively rather than through altering Florida’s foundational document.”

A University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) poll published in November reported conflicted findings, however, and suggests strong support for the approval of legalizing recreational marijuana, with sixty-seven percent of respondents in favor of a constitutional amendment allowing the purchase and possession of small amounts.

“Unlike previous surveys when we simply asked if folks support or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, this time we gave respondents the specifics of this proposed amendment,” said PORL faculty director and professor of political science Dr. Michael Binder. “Yet again, it looks like it has a good chance of passing, if the measure makes it through the courts, and that is a very big ‘if’.”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce political poll was conducted on December 27, 2023 – January 4, 2024 by Cherry Communications during live telephone interviews of likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The sample size included 237 Democrats, 256 Republicans, and 107 Others for a total of 600 respondents statewide.


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