DeSantis' Polling Struggles Continue as the Delta Outbreak in Florida Rages On; Polling Numbers "Underwater"

Joe Duncan

DeSantis' poll numbers are tanking as the pandemic rages on

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Ron DeSantis at a press conferenceGovernment of Florida

It's official. The polls are in. 61% of Floridians think that the COVID-19 surge in Florida over the past few months was "preventable" by policies and that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' policies hindered our ability to do just that. DeSantis, a governor once beloved by the people of Florida, a man who enjoyed a 53% approval rating, much higher than most governors or even Presidents, has slid backward in a massive slump in approval since the COVID-19 pandemic reawakened here in Florida.

Back in March 2021, DeSantis had an approval rating of 53%. That number got a boost, up to 55% by May of 2021. But that's when things started slipping for ole' Ron. News outlets began taking him to the cleaners for his bill passed that took on college campuses. Some say that DeSantis was inviting Big Brother into our Florida schools, using the full force of the government to carry out recon missions for the thought police.

"State bill would put Big Brother’s thought police on campus," read the headline of a recent piece, as fears came to life over the new law passed here in Florida, as Governor Ron DeSantis went to war with college campuses. Some found it frightful that the Governor wants to know the political leanings of everyone on college campuses. At the same time, supporters of the bill believe it's a necessary step to curb perceived "bias" and discrimination against them.

"DeSantis is 'Florida Man'" read another headline from Deadspin, in response to the Florida Governor signing HB 233 - Postsecondary Education, a bill that has raised eyebrows and has Floridians asking questions. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. As DeSantis' authoritarian stripes finally started to show, the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus started sweeping across Florida.

Now, our hospitals are maxed out. Our public servants and first responders are dying. Police officers, corrections officers, and firefighters are all dying after the recent wave of the COVID pandemic. And schools are having a hard time finding bus drivers or teachers willing to teach, especially now that DeSantis has threatened to withhold teacher pay if any school district doesn't comply with his law that says that students cannot wear masks in Florida schools.

He's flaunting even the most basic and sensible protections against a deadly virus that's ravaging our state right now.

Our hospitals are in crisis, as the pandemic causes a steep rise in the number of people in need of care, in a state that was already suffering from a nurse shortage before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Florida is a state that has a lot of elderly people who need special care, and it doesn't have enough nurses to care for those people on a normal year, let alone in the middle of an all-out pandemic that's killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

DeSantis has pushed away from the moderates and even the Democrats who supported him in his bid for the Florida governorship. I wrote this story back in August announcing that Florida hospitals saw spikes in patients setting records. And that spike has only increased.

And now, deaths are starting to spike too, higher than we've ever seen in Florida throughout the pandemic:

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Financial Times

And at the same time, Ron DeSantis was coming under fire from the far right, those very same people he's structured his policy agenda around. Make no mistake, the far-right who support DeSantis' policies are an extreme minority in Florida. But once he started endorsing vaccines as the best way to protect against COVID-19, they began to turn their backs on him. The anti-vax movement has largely overtaken the far right in a way that's certain to kill off many of his supporters and sicken others.

DeSantis has painted himself in a box within a box. He can't win except to admit he was wrong and return to his usual course of moderate governing, the very thing most Floridians elected him to do.

He tried to be moderate in the beginning. Then he swung to the far right, even dabbling in authoritarianism and conspiracy theories, and now, it'll be a challenge to move back to his old moderate position and save face. it seems like everyone's mad at him and his underwater polls show it.

His best hope is to try and start appealing to Florida voters again instead of doubling down on his failed policies. We need a Florida governor who governs sensibly through this crisis, no matter what your party affiliation, not another Trump.

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Orlando, FL
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