Poll: DeSantis, Rubio Both Lead Democrat Challengers in Florida Midterm Races

Poll: DeSantis, Rubio Both Lead Democrat Challengers in Florida Midterm Races

Florida Republicans Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio are leading their closest Democrat competitors in hypothetical general election matchups, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll published Tuesday.

The poll, conducted January 26 to 29 among 500 likely voters, found DeSantis leading Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) by six points, 49 percent to 43 percent. Eight percent of respondents said they were undecided.

Crist, the frontrunning Democrat candidate, previously served as Florida governor as a Republican for one term until 2011. Instead of running for reelection, he launched a bid for U.S. Senate in 2010 and was handily defeated by Rubio. Crist soon thereafter announced he was becoming a Democrat and then ran for governor in 2014 as a Democrat and lost.

Crist was later elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017 in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, a toss-up district that former President Donald Trump narrowly lost by less than five points in both 2016 and 2020.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 19: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) greets attendees during Black Lives Matters Business Expo on June 19, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The St. Petersburg Black Lives Matters group organized the Juneteenth celebration event which featured black-owned businesses from around the Tampa Bay area. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) greets attendees during a Black Lives Matters business expo on June 19, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

DeSantis was also measured against Democrat gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried, an attorney who currently serves as Florida agriculture commissioner. In that matchup, DeSantis led Fried by 11 points, 51 percent to 40 percent, while nine percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll also explored the U.S. Senate race in Florida, in which incumbent Rubio is poised to compete in a much anticipated and expensive general election against Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), a former Orlando police chief.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., who is campaigning to challenge Republican Marco Rubio for his U.S. Senate seat in November, speaks with leaders of the Puerto Rican community at Borinquen Health Care Center, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) speaks with leaders of the Puerto Rican community at Borinquen Health Care Center, January 26, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Florida Politics laid out Demings’ fundraising numbers in a report on Monday, noting the Florida Democrat had boasted that she raised “the most funds of any Senate challenger in Florida history” after banking $7.1 million in the last quarter of 2021 while entering 2022 with $8.1 million in cash on hand. Demings has so far outpaced Rubio in fundraising, but Rubio is currently maintaining about a $2 million cash-on-hand advantage over Demings.

Despite Demings’ eye-popping fundraising numbers, the Suffolk poll found Rubio with an eight-point lead over his Democrat challenger, 49 percent to 41 percent. Ten percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent, which means that although DeSantis and Rubio are both positioned ahead of their Democrat opponents, the point differences are within or just barely outside of the margin of error and indicate the races, which will take place in November, are in fact tight in their early stages.

Write to Ashley Oliver at . Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.

Ashley Oliver