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Florida GOP likes DeSantis far more than Trump in new poll

NBC News 12/9/2022 Marc Caputo

Florida Ron DeSantis is the most popular political figure among Republican voters who favor him far more than his fellow Sunshine State Republican — and possible 2024 rival — former President Donald Trump, according to a new poll obtained by NBC News.

The survey, conducted by the GOP firm Ragnar Research Partners, shows that 86 percent of Republican voters have a favorable impression of the governor in the wake of his historic 20-percentage point thrashing of Democrat Charlie Crist in his re-election, while only 10 percent have an unfavorable view. His net approval rating of 76 percentage points is surpassed in the poll by the share of those Republicans who have a very favorable impression, 79 percent — a crucial measurement of intensity.

In contrast, Trump’s “very favorable” rating is 48 percent in the poll. With 70 percent approving of him overall and 26 percent disapproving, Trump’s total net favorable rating is 44 points -- 32 points lower than DeSantis among Republicans.

The survey also found that, by 41-37 percent, more considered themselves Trump voters than traditional Republicans. Yet DeSantis marginally edged Trump with this subsection of voters, too, with a 95-point net approval rating compared to Trump’s 91 points.

A national poll of GOP voters from another Republican firm, WPA Intelligence, also found DeSantis was more popular with Trump voters than Trump, who has encountered steady turbulence in the three weeks since announcing his campaign.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Thursday showed DeSantis leading Trump 47-42 percent in a head-to-head primary matchup for president. And a Marquette University poll earlier this month showed the two in a tie.

Most early Republican primary surveys for president, however, show Trump ahead of DeSantis, who is not expected to make an announcement until next summer or later, if at all.

But the takeaway for Ragnar’s pollster, Chris Perkins, is clear.

“Ron DeSantis’ favorable image is through the roof with Florida Republicans and substantially better than Donald Trump’s image,” Perkins wrote in a memo obtained by NBC News. Perkins would not comment on his poll to NBC.

Perkins’ poll, which tested the image of 15 political figures, found that Trump had the sixth-highest net favorability rating, trailing newly re-elected Sen. Marco Rubio (67 points, the second-highest behind DeSantis); DeSantis’s wife and Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis (61 points), Trump’s wife and former First Lady Melania Trump (57); Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (52); and Fox TV personality Tucker Carlson (46). Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk was in seventh behind Trump at 43 points and Florida Sen. Rick Scott was in 11th place at 31 points. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was next to last, with a net favorable rating of a single point.

Only one figure was upside down: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose net image rating was negative 24 points.

Perkins didn’t poll a horse-race matchup of any of the candidates, but he indicated Scott should be worried about his 2024 reelection because of such soft numbers.

“It’s notable how Rick Scott’s image is barely 2:1 on the favorable to unfavorable image ratio. When looking at image among voters of the elected official’s party primary voters, incumbents can become vulnerable if they ever drop beneath the 2 to 1 favorable to unfavorable scale,” Perkins wrote in his memo.

The Ragnar Research survey of 500 Republican voters was conducted by live telephone operators via landlines and cellphones Nov. 20-21. The margin of error is 4 points.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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