Florida voters are “turning” against the state’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, as summarized by a new report from POLITICO. There’s not a lot of time for a turnaround before this simmering public opposition to the governor could turn into substantive consequences for his political career — he’s up for re-election next year, and two prominent Democrats have already announced their hopes to take him on in the general election. In the meantime, a Quinnipiac University survey that was released this month found just 47 percent of respondents approving of DeSantis’s job performance, compared to 45 percent who disapproved. A recent St. Pete Polls survey found DeSantis’s job approval level at just 43 percent, with a full 48 percent disapproving.
DeSantis can’t count on sailing to re-election without even holding the approval of a simple majority of the state’s population. The prominent Democrats angling to challenge DeSantis include Congressman (and former Governor) Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and both have spotlighted DeSantis’s reckless handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. Even as what’s known as the delta variant of COVID-19 has driven new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Florida to staggering levels, DeSantis has petulantly resisted the imposition of basic safety measures targeting the virus.
Now, Florida leads every other state in average daily levels of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as of this Saturday. As of that same point, the state was set to imminently hit a total of 44,000 fatalities from COVID-19. Amid this unfolding crisis — which has involved serious strain on hospitals — how is DeSantis spending his time? In part by fighting against the ability of cruise lines and local officials to put measures in place that would keep people safe.
Notably, DeSantis actually recently lost on both fronts. This week, Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper ruled that the DeSantis administration could not legally enforce a ban on mask mandates in schools. Certain school districts had already imposed mask mandates in defiance of the governor, but now, more could undertake the move. A federal judge has also blocked DeSantis’s team from going after Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings in an attempt to enforce an attempted ban on vaccine mandates for cruise passengers. Now, cruise companies including Disney, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean are requiring vaccinations to ride.
With all of these losses, what can DeSantis even point to as a major result of his time in power? Floridians have died while DeSantis has been playing disgraceful political games. Even DeSantis’s non-pandemic related policy pushes have faltered. A judge blocked the implementation of a law that was poised to penalize social media companies for removing political candidates from their platforms.