DeSantis approval on the upswing; Republicans like idea of Casey DeSantis for governor

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The DeSantis brand, battered by constant attacks and political miscalculations, is looking a bit better.

A Florida Atlantic University poll released Thursday found Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval among the state’s voters has ticked up and disapproval has gone down.

In the latest survey, 54% of Florida voters approve and 40% disapprove of the way DeSantis is handling his job of government. That’s a net positive of 14 percentage points.

When FAU asked voters the same question in November, 50% approved and 49% disapproved, a net positive of just 1 percentage point.

In November, DeSantis was still in the throes of his unsuccessful candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, an effort that never caught on despite months of campaigning and heavy spending.

The campaign also meant he was subjected to constant criticism from former President Donald Trump, then the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination and now the presumptive Republican nominee.

The Trump criticism has abated since DeSantis dropped out and issued a tepid endorsement of the former president earlier this year.

And DeSantis is much more of a presence in Florida than he was when he was campaigning for president in other states. He’s constantly touring the state, holding events to highlight policies that he sees as broadly popular with the public on a range of subjects, from education policy to clean water spending, to allowing people to buy larger bottles of wine in local stores.

Casey DeSantis

DeSantis can’t run again for governor because of term limits, providing an opening for many ambitious candidates in an increasingly Republican state.

Pollsters posted one hypothetical to Republican primary voters: If the 2026 primary for the nomination for governor were between Casey DeSantis, wife of the current governor, and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, the firebrand Panhandle Republican, who they would choose.

Casey DeSantis was the choice of 38% of Republicans.

Gaetz was the pick for 16%.

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A large share — 20% — said they’d pick another candidate. Others weren’t named, but there’s no shortage of Republicans, including other statewide elected officials and at least one member of Congress, who are contemplating candidacies. Another 26% said they didn’t know.

To a large extent, polling this far in advance of the August 2026 primary, with no declared candidates or active campaigning, is a test of name recognition. And voters may not get that option. The family’s political activities since he dropped out of the race for the 2024 nomination appear aimed at another Ron DeSantis presidential candidacy in 2028.

There was little difference in support for Casey DeSantis and Gaetz support among men and women.

Support for Casey DeSantis was somewhat higher among older voters than among younger voters. Gaetz had much more support (26%) among voters ages 35-49 than among other age groups.

Casey DeSantis had slightly higher support among white college educated voters than among those without a college education. Gaetz had slightly more support among white non-college educated voters than among those with a college education.

Governor’s approval

Ron DeSantis’s approval is up and disapproval is down, but he remains a polarizing figure for Florida voters.

Among men, 60% approve and 35% disapprove.

Among women, 48% approve and 45% disapprove.

Among Democrats, 21% approve and 74% disapprove.

Among Republicans, 86% approve and 9% disapprove.

Among independents, 49% approve and 44% disapprove.

Fine print

The poll of 865 Florida voters was conducted April 15 through April 17 by Mainstreet Research for Florida Atlantic University’s PolCom Lab, which is a collaboration of the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies and Department of Political Science.

The survey used text messages to reach registered voters who responded to a link to complete the survey online and used automated phone calls to reach other voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full survey of Democrats, Republicans and independents. The margin of error for smaller groups, such as Republicans or Democrats, or men and women, is higher because the sample sizes are smaller.

Anthony Man can be reached at and can be found @browardpolitics on Facebook, and