U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is seeing some favorable statistics for his undeclared, yet highly anticipated, bid for governor of Florida, following the president's endorsement just before Christmas.
The congressman's name first appeared in a statewide poll just after Christmas and less than a week after U.S. President Donald Trump threw his support behind DeSantis, saying he “would make a great governor of Florida.”
On Dec. 27, Gravis Marketing published a Florida voter poll suggesting DeSantis had surpassed both state House Speaker Richard Corcoran (undeclared) and former state Sen. Jack Latvala in the 2018 GOP primary election, second only to state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the perceived GOP frontrunner, by 11 points.
Sixty percent of the 5,778 registered voters who were surveyed, however, said they were undecided on which GOP candidate they would vote for if the primary election had been held that day.
The Gravis Marketing poll was conducted using interactive voice responses and an online panel of cellphone users between Dec. 19 and Dec. 24. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percent. DeSantis received his endorsement for governor from the president on Dec. 22.
This week, another poll shined a light on the three-term Republican representative for Florida's 6th congressional district.
Kansas City-based Remington Research Group released a poll of likely Republican primary election voters on Tuesday that suggests DeSantis now has an early three-point lead over Putnam. According to the RRG poll, DeSantis carries 28 percent of the Republican vote, compared to Putnam's 25 percent and Corcoran's three percent.
Forty-four percent of Republican primary voters remain undecided in a three-way race, according to the poll. In a head-to-head matchup between DeSantis and Putnam, the margin narrows slightly.
If the Republican primary for governor were held today, DeSantis would garner 30 percent of the vote in a two-way race, compared to Putnam's 29 percent. Forty-one percent of GOP primary voters are undecided in this scenario, suggesting Corcoran's three percent and two percent of undecideds would go to Putnam.
"This is a very early survey but there are some very encouraging takeaways for Ron DeSantis,” said Titus Bond, president of Remington Research Group. “This race is very close with a slight edge for DeSantis, the Trump endorsement could end up becoming a deciding factor here."
Florida's commissioner of agriculture does retain an edge over DeSantis in terms of favorability and name recognition, according to the poll. Putnam is found favorable among 37 percent of Republican primary voters, while DeSantis sits at 32 percent.
Both Putnam and DeSantis are viewed unfavorably by six percent and seven percent, respectively. Fifty-seven percent had no opinion on Putnam, while 61 percent had no opinion on DeSantis, according to the poll.
DeSantis' base of support is most evident in West Palm Beach, where 47 percent of Republican primary voters find him favorable and 46 percent have no opinion, according to the poll. DeSantis' second largest support base exists in Jacksonville, the congressman's hometown.
The poll suggests 42 percent of GOP voters in the Bold City find him favorable, while 47 percent have no opinion. Interestingly enough, DeSantis is also found most unfavorable in Jacksonville, when compared to West Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, Mobile-Pensacola, Miami and Fort Myers.
The poll fails to include Republican candidate Jack Latvala, who resigned from his post in December. While he has yet to make a statement on his gubernatorial intentions, it's believed that he will – sooner rather than later – withdraw from the race. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Attorney General Pam Bondi all urged Latvala to step down.
The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police gathered in Jacksonville back in October to announce the police union's endorsement of Latvala for governor. With more than 22,000 members, whose votes could be up for grabs in the next few months, the FOP has showed no signs of wavering support for Latvala, despite allegations of misconduct in Tallahassee.
The RRG poll consists of 1,423 likely Republican primary election voters who were surveyed between Dec. 30 and Dec. 31. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent. The poll was paid for and commissioned independently of any campaign or political committee, according to RRG.
While it's still unknown what the congressman plans to do in 2018, this much we do know: Trump's public display of support for DeSantis has done a great deal for his public image, despite the president's recent job approval ratings.
According to the RRG poll, 69 percent of Republican voters are more likely to support him if he decides to run for governor, while 15 percent are more likely to oppose him.
“We'll make an announcement soon,” said Brad Herold, Ron DeSantis for Florida spokesperson, when asked about a timetable for the congressman to declare his intentions.
Last week, the Ron DeSantis for Florida campaign announced its “Finance Leadership Team” for 2018. The list included more than a handful of wealthy GOP backers, some of whom were directly involved in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
A few of the more notable names on the “Florida Leadership” team: Tom Peterffy, Bob Rich, Jackie and David Siegel. As far as the “National Leadership” team goes, Sheldon Adelson, David Bossie, Elliott Broidy, Dick Uihlein, Foster Friess and Rebekah Mercer all made the cut.
“The 2018 election cycle will be important in determining the future of conservative policy reform and I'm glad that we've assembled a great group of leaders to assist with the cycle,” DeSantis said.
As of October, the Ron DeSantis for Florida political action committee has $1.68 million cash on hand. Combined with his newly announced financial leadership entourage, DeSantis should be financially set for whichever race he decides to enter.