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UNF Poll: Trump Pulls Ahead in Florida Republican Presidential Primary

Florida - Tuesday November 7, 2023: A new poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab asked likely Republican primary voters across Florida their preferences in the 2024 presidential primary.

When given a list of possible candidates, 60% of respondents indicated a vote for Donald Trump, followed by 21% for Ron DeSantis in a distant second place. Nikki Haley came in third with 6%, followed by Chris Christie with 2%, and Vivek Ramaswamy with 1%. The remaining candidates each received less than 1%.

Eight percent of respondents said they do not know or refused to answer.

When asked to choose between DeSantis and Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head race, 59% of respondents said they would vote for Trump, with 29% for DeSantis, and 12% who don’t know or

“Despite historically high approval in the polls, Governor DeSantis losing steam in his home state doesn’t bode well for his national campaign,” commented Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and professor of political science. “Even if you wipe out the rest of the competition in a head-to-head, Trump leads DeSantis by 20 points.”

Respondents were also asked their opinions about former President Trump’s actions after the 2020 election. Seventy-one percent said the statement, “he was just exercising his right to contest the
election,” was the closest to their view. Conversely, 16% said they aligned more with the statement, “he went so far that he threatened American democracy.” Fourteen percent said they don’t know or refused to answer.

“Given the support for Trump in the upcoming election, it’s not surprising that most of these voters think he was within his rights to contest the election,” commented Binder. “Interestingly, the 16% who think he threatened democracy tend to favor DeSantis narrowly over Nikki Haley.”

In addition to the presidential election, respondents were asked about their preferences in the 2026 Florida Gubernatorial election. Unsurprisingly, a large portion (40%) said they do not know who they would vote for or refused to answer. Twenty-two percent of respondents indicated a vote for Casey DeSantis, followed by 9% each for Byron Donalds and Mat Gaetz.

When asked about the effect of a potential endorsement from Ron DeSantis, 37% of respondents said an endorsement would influence their vote choice for Florida governor a great deal. Thirty-one percent said an endorsement would influence their choice some, 10% said very little, and 18% not at all.

“We’re obviously still a ways out from the Governor’s race, and this pool of candidates will certainly change before 2026,” commented Binder. “For now, it seems Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis is an early favorite among Republican primary voters – wouldn’t that be interesting, potentially having the DeSantises in the governor’s mansion for another 11 years.”

In another set of questions, respondents were asked their opinions about the U.S. House of Representatives, and the recent removal of House speaker Kevin McCarthy. Just 8% said they have a
great deal of trust in the House, with 31% indicating some trust. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they have very little trust in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 20% said they have no trust at all.

When asked how the speaker’s removal affects their trust in the House, 49% said there was no change, 27% said it decreased trust, and 16% said it increased. Similarly, when asked how the speaker’s removal affects their approval of the Republican party, 48% said their approval did not change, 29% said their approval decreased, 16% said it increased after McCarthy’s removal.

“Most of these respondents have little to no trust in the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Binder. “While a little less than half said McCarthy’s ousting didn’t affect their opinions of the House or the Party, the situation in Congress seems to have made a bad impression on about a third of likely Republican voters.”