Charlie Crist leads Dems in Mason-Dixon poll, but DeSantis’ position looks strong

Republican governor holds 53 percent approval rating in survey

By: - February 15, 2022 6:01 am

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Charlie Crist leads in a Mason-Dixon Florida poll of Democrats contending in the party primary to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis this fall, but the survey suggests the governor enjoys substantial advantages over any of the Democrats in contention.

In a survey of Democratic primary voters, U.S. Rep. Crist, a former Republican governor, drew 44 percent support, compared to 27 percent for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried and 3 percent for state Sen. Annette Taddeo. Twenty-six percent were undecided.

“Crist is the gubernatorial candidate who is most familiar to primary voters, and despite his previous statewide runs as both a Republican and an Independent, he has emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination,” Mason-Dixon said in a report containing the findings, released for publication on Tuesday morning.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference Jan. 5, 2022.

DeSantis, however, enjoyed comfortable leads over all three Democrats — 51 percent to 43 percent over Crist; 53 percent to 42 percent over Fried; and 53 percent to 37 percent over Taddeo.

The poll attributed that to DeSantis’ favorability ratings: 53 percent approved of his job performance; 43 disapproved; 4 percent were undecided.

The Fried campaign, meanwhile, pointed to a Public Policy Polling survey that reflected a statistical tie between her and Crist. That survey, with a margin for error of plus or minus 4.1 percent, had Crist at 36 percent and Fried at 34 percent in a head-to-head contest.

Factor in Taddeo and the poll reflects ratings of 47 favorable and 7 percent unfavorable for Fried; 55 favorable and 18 percent unfavorable for Crist; and 14 percent favorable and 10 percent unfavorable for Taddeo.

Those numbers could reflect a lack of familiarity with the candidates: 47 percent were unsure how they felt about Fried; 27 percent about Crist; and 76 percent about Taddeo.

The Mason-Dixon findings follow months of controversy over DeSantis’ handling of the COVID pandemic, including his early reopening of the economy after his initial lockdown in spring 2020; and political fights with local school boards, President Biden, and federal public health authorities over the efficacy of face masks and vaccines in containing the coronavirus.

Those numbers are little changed from polling on DeSantis’ standing one year ago.

DeSantis’ approval rating was strongest in Southwest Florida, at 64 percent, followed by North Florida (62 percent), Central Florida (57 percent), Tampa Bay (55 percent), and Southeast Florida (38 percent).

The poll found a significant gender gap in terms of the governor’s support, with only 47 percent of women approving of his performance against 60 percent of men. There’s an age gap, too: 56 percent of voters over 50 like what they see against 49 percent of younger voters.

He does not appeal to Black voters — only 16 percent of them gave positive marks, compared to 61 percent of whites. Hispanic voters were spilt, 50-50.

The findings are based on telephone interviews with 625 randomly selected registered voters between Feb. 7 and Feb. 10, including land lines and cellphones. Mason-Dixon put the margin for error at plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The findings reflect an oversampling of 400 likely Democratic voters, questioned only about their party’s primary. The margin for error for these findings is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.