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Florida GOPs DeSantis and Rubio lead Democrats Crist, Demings: poll

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Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, speaks during a ‘Keep Florida Free’ rally with Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, in Hialeah, Florida, US, on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Florida Republican leaders Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio have taken sizable leads over their Democratic challengers lower than two months before the November midterm elections, a recent poll showed Monday.

DeSantis holds an 8 percentage point lead, 49%-41%, over former Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, based on the Spectrum News/Siena College poll of 669 likely Florida voters. DeSantis is widely viewed as a top contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — second perhaps only to former President Donald Trump.

Rubio leads his Democratic rival, Rep. Val Demings, by 7 points, 48%-41%, the survey found.

The spreads in each of those races exceeded the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points. Respondents were contacted by landline and cellphone in English and Spanish, based on the Siena College Research Institute.

The poll was conducted Sept. 18 to Sept. 25, prior to the impact of Hurricane Ian which pummeled swaths of Florida’s western coastline last week when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm. The hurricane left dozens dead, with the death count still rising Monday morning, and hundreds of thousands at the very least temporarily without power or clean water.

Ian’s approach, and the devastation left in its wake, has put a highlight on DeSantis’ leadership, including his shift to a more collegial tone with the Biden administration as he requested emergency assistance. The governor has otherwise largely deployed an aggressive rhetorical style and a willingness to wade into politically animating culture war issues.

Days before Ian emerged as a chief threat to Florida, DeSantis was within the news over his administration’s decision to send planes full of dozens of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Critics decried the move as a stunt that used human beings as props. However the Siena poll found that a majority of respondents, 49%-44%, supported the state sending migrants from Florida to other states.

While the poll query asked about migrants from Florida, DeSantis’ program reportedly relocated migrants who were looking for asylum in Texas.

Overall, Florida likely voters identified economic issues as their top area of concern for the midterms. A plurality of Democratic respondents ranked “threats to democracy” as their No. 1 issue.

A couple of-third of Democrats also picked abortion as either their first or second selection on the list of top issues.

“While abortion doesn’t make it into the highest seven issues for men, it is the second-most necessary issue for ladies,” said Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, in a press release.

Greater than 90% of Democratic respondents said they opposed the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protected the federal right to an abortion. A majority of voters overall, 57%-34%, opposed the conservative court’s ruling, whilst GOP respondents said they support it by a 3 to 1 margin.

Siena’s poll also showed Ashley Moody, Florida’s Republican attorney general, leading Democratic candidate Aramis Ayala, 41%-34%.

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