Florida is on the way to becoming the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and voters are losing faith in Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The state keeps setting daily records for new cases after DeSantis reopened the economy, and the new outbreak has cut into his approval rating and potentially makes President Donald Trump vulnerable in November's election, reported The Daily Beast.
“If you look around the country most governors, regardless of party, saw their numbers rise,” said Democratic political consultant Jeff Garcia, who pointed to DeSantis' approval rating dropping from 58 to 51 in April, while many other governors saw their numbers rise. “DeSantis is in a rare category. He is not overwhelmingly disliked, but he has seen a precipitous drop in his approval rating.”
DeSantis may be ready to tap the brakes on the reopening with 5,000 new cases daily, but a spokesman for the governor declined to comment on whether his handling of the pandemic hurt the president.
“We are where we are,” DeSantis said this week. “I didn’t say we’re going to go on to the next phase.”
DeSantis had made gains with voters before the pandemic after his narrow election win in 2018, but the coronavirus has cut into his support.
“I thought he was also making strides in solar power energy and increasing teachers’ salaries,” said Miami voter Rod Deal, who backed Democrat Andrew Gillum two years ago. “I thought he was putting the people’s needs first. From what I saw, I thought I will vote for him next time.”
But he said DeSantis had lost his trust, and his vote, during the pandemic.
“It was only in the last three months that I started wondering, ‘What the hell is up with this dude?” Deal said. “Opening up the entire state with the COVID numbers going up was horrible.”
That will almost certainly hurt the president's re-election chances in a state he needs to win, according to experts.
“If he has to own that and if people are looking to DeSantis as a role model for the state and he doesn't look good," said J. Edwin Benton, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, "then by implication it's going to have a similar if not equal effect on Donald Trump's chances of winning the state in November."