Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

UNF Poll: DeSantis Edges Trump Amongst Florida Republicans; Fried Leads Crist

47% said they would vote for Nikki Fried, while 43% said they would cast their ballot for Charlie Crist.
Wikipedia Commons

Tallahassee - Tuesday August 16, 2022: A slim majority of registered Florida republicans say they would favor Governor Ron DeSantis over former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical presidential primary in 2024, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida (UNF).

When asked who they would vote for, 47% of respondents said they would vote for DeSantis, 45% favored Trump and 7% said they would vote for someone else.

The respondents were also asked how they would characterize DeSantis and Trump’s personal relationship, to which 47% said acquaintances, 42% said friends, and just 8% said they think they are enemies.

“DeSantis and Trump are the two most popular Republican names being discussed for 2024 and DeSantis is edging him out in their home state,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science. "People are split on whether Trump and DeSantis are friends or merely acquaintances, I guess we’ll really find out after the midterms and the 2024 race starts to heat up.”

Governor Ron DeSantis had an approval rating of 50%, down from 58% in February of this year. Forty-five percent said they approve strongly of the job DeSantis is doing, while only 5% said they approve somewhat. Conversely, 41% said they strongly disapprove, with only 7% disapproving somewhat.

“The polarization of DeSantis support is striking, if not altogether surprising with political agenda and media presence this past year,” Binder commented.

Who Won the 2020 Election?

On the question of who won the 2020 election—Joe Biden or Donald Trump— overall 60% of Florida voters said Biden either definitely or probably won the election, while 38% said Trump definitely or probably won. However when broken down by party, 95% of democrats said Joe Biden won the 2020 election, while among republicans, 77% said Trump really won the 2020 election.

And when respondents were asked whether they believe much of mainstream media to be “fake news,” overall, 56% of Florida voters said it is fake news, with 42% indicating it is not fake news. But there was a clear partisan divide over this question as well with 84% of democrats saying the mainstream media is not fake news, while 93% of republicans said the mainstream media is fake news.

“While we see a partisan divide in perceptions of the 2020 election, democrats seem to be much more certain, with 91% saying Biden definitely won,” Binder noted, “but only 38% of republicans say Trump definitely won, the remaining 39% saying he probably won.” Binder noted. “

Unsurprisingly, 98% of folks who said Trump won in 2020 also think that the mainstream media is fake news.”

Wikipedia Commons

Fried vs Crist

Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried came out ahead of Charlie Crist amongst registered democrats who are likely to vote in the August 23 primary election, but she was still seven points behind republican incumbent Ron DeSantis in a head-to-head race among registered voters. 47% said they would vote for Nikki Fried, while 43% said they would cast their ballot for Charlie Crist.

“Fried seems to have reversed the eight-point lead that Crist had when we asked registered democrats about vote choice in February,” said Dr. Binder. “It’s possible that the overturning of Roe v. Wade changed the make-up of this race, and has particularly energized women that are almost 20 points more likely to vote for her.”

Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried had an approval rating of 40%, with 27% disapproving and 31% who don’t know. “More people seem to have an opinion about Fried since she started campaigning for Governor—her ‘don’t know’ percentage has decreased dramatically from 49% in February.”

Registered voters who said they would vote in the general midterm election in November were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, and the candidates were Ron DeSantis and Nikki Fried. Fifty percent of respondents said they would vote for DeSantis, with 43% indicating a vote for Fried, and 5% said they would vote for someone else.

DeSantis also came out on top with 50% when asked the same question if the Democratic candidate was Charlie Crist, who had 42%, and 6% saying they would vote for someone else.

“Fried and Crist are trailing behind DeSantis in head-to-heads,” Binder noted, “but both potential match-ups are much closer than they were when we polled registered voters in February, when DeSantis was up by over 20 percentage points. It is important to keep in mind that these are registered voters, and republicans are generally more likely to turn out in November.”

Overwhelming Support for Demings

Registered democrats were also asked who they would chose for U.S. Senate and an overwhelming majority indicated they would vote for Val Demings who was favored by 80% of respondents, with William Sanchez and Brian Rush tied in a distant second with 4% each.

Val Demings also came out on top in the head-to-head against Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, with 48% indicating a vote for Demings and 44% for Rubio, with 7% saying they would vote for someone else.

Biden and The Supreme Court

In addition to primary and general election questions, respondents were asked about job approval for several federal and state officials.

President Joe Biden has an approval rating of 38%, with 59% disapproving.

The U.S. Supreme Court had similarly low approval, with 37% approving and 59% disapproval. U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott both fared no better, each with 37% approving.

Roe vs Wade

Respondents were also asked about the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.

When asked how this decision would impact their voting behavior, 51% said made them more likely to vote in the November midterm election, 46% said it would not affect their decision to vote, and 3% said it would make them less likely to vote.

In a related question, respondents were asked if they would support a law making abortion illegal in all cases in the State of Florida, to which the majority, 59%, said they would be strongly opposed, and 12% somewhat opposed. 27% said they would support such a law, 13% strongly and 14% somewhat.

“Without the protections of Roe, the likelihood of a strict or outright ban on abortion being introduced in Florida increases dramatically, and this looks to be mobilizing Democrats to the polls—78% said the decision made them more likely to vote in November,” noted Binder. “But among republicans, most, 54%, said they are at least somewhat supportive of an outright ban.”

Important Florida Issues

When asked what they think is the most important problem facing Florida today, a notable 43% of respondents said cost of living was the most pressing issue. Tied in a distant second place are education and abortion/reproductive rights, each with 8%. Cost of living is a new category added since the last time this question was asked in February of this year, when the top choice was economy, jobs, and unemployment with 22%, now down to 7%.

“With record inflation this past year, it’s no wonder that Florida voters are concerned about the cost of living,” commented Binder. “Even with signs that inflation may begin to ease, cost of living in Florida does not appear to be improving anytime soon.”


The UNF PORL Florida Statewide Poll consists of a random sample of 1,624 registered Florida voters and was conducted August 8 through August 12, 2022, by the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida. The survey was administered through email via Qualtrics, an online survey platform. The sampling frame was comprised of registered voters in the July 2022 update of the Florida voter file, who either had a listed email address or could be matched using a commercial database. Sixty-five percent of the respondents who were missing email addresses were appended using Aristotle’s Match-It service, which matched respondents to email addresses using the name and physical address listed in the voter file. This study had a 4.2% response rate.

To ensure a representative sample of registered voters, the 10 Florida designated media market areas were stratified into 18 strata. Heavily urban and highly educated counties were separated out from their media markets and given their own stratum.

The weighting process had three steps. First, data were weighted by geographic strata to reflect the population across the State of Florida, followed by the respondent’s educational attainment. Finally, data were weighted to partisan registration, age, race, sex, and 2020 vote choice. Education weights were created from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 2020 estimates for the percent of college-educated individuals over 25 in the state of Florida, approximately 31% statewide. Partisan registration, sex, race, and age weights were created from the July 2022 update of the Florida Voter File to match registered voters in Florida.

About University of North Florida

The University of North Florida is a nationally ranked university located on a beautiful 1,381-acre campus in Jacksonville surrounded by nature. Serving 17,000 students, UNF features six colleges of distinction with innovative programs in high-demand fields. UNF students receive individualized attention from faculty and gain valuable real-world experience engaging with community partners. A top public university, UNF prepares students to make a difference in Florida and around the globe. Learn more at: