Majority of poll participants think DeSantis has mishandled pandemic

Published: August 25, 2021 5:30 PM EDT
Updated: August 25, 2021 7:44 PM EDT

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll, more than half of Floridians disapprove of the way Gov. Ron DeSantis has handled the pandemic.

We spoke to a Lee County Republican Party leader who says he believes the new poll numbers, but he doesn’t believe it’s bad news for the governor.

“So do I think the polling numbers reflect what people think? Absolutely,” said Chairman Jonathan Martin of the Lee County Republican Party. “Do I think that people need more information? Without a doubt. One hundred percent, they’re not getting the facts.”

Martin told us the poll shows too many people don’t have or hear the right information. He pointed to the issue of masks in schools.

The governor has staked his reputation on his handling of the coronavirus. Despite the availability of the vaccine, Florida reports more deaths currently than at any point in the pandemic. According to the New York Times interactive COVID-19 tracking database, Florida’s 7-day average for COVID-19 deaths was 228 as of Tuesday.

“A very large percentage of Floridians think that this surge was preventable,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at UCF. “And that suggests that they don’t think that the governor did everything that he could to stop this surge.”

Jewett says Quinnipiac’s poll backs that up, showing 61% of Floridians believe the rise in COVID-19 cases was preventable. While 41% of those surveyed say the governor is helping the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, 46% say he’s hurting that effort.

“What that survey also showed was that a strong majority of Republicans generally support what the governor is doing,” Jewett said.

Where the Quinnipiac polls says 60% of adults support a mandate, the governor wants parents to decide.

“What I think we should be talking about is giving people and giving parents, who feel like their kids should be more protected in school, giving them actual science and telling them there’s a mask out there that can actually stop a virus from getting into their kids mouth or lungs,” Martin said.

We asked Martin what his advice would be to the governor.

“The governor needs to do a better job of getting the message out,” Martin said. “I don’t know what he’s doing with the media exactly. But clearly, the media is ignoring what I’ve heard in person.”

The Quinnipiac University Poll spoke with 997 people. We asked the governor’s office for reaction to the poll, but no one got back to us.

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