Ron DeSantis faces Florida voter revolt as COVID cases explode: report
Ron DeSantis speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

With his eye reportedly on the White House in 2024, Politico is reporting that the popularity of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is plummeting with voters in his own state and that his Florida re-election in 2022 is no longer a sure thing.

According to the report, DeSantis' handling of the resurgent COVID pandemic is crippling his political future as the death toll soars and he refused to back down on slow-walking measures to stop its spread.

The Republican governor's fight to block masking mandates in schools is taking its toll on his previously high polling numbers as school boards revolt and parents increasingly turn on him.

According to Politico's Matt Dixon, "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been untouchable for the past year as he commanded the Republican culture wars to become heir apparent to Donald Trump. The latest coronavirus surge is starting to change that," adding, "It's new terrain for a Republican governor who defied dire expectation during the first wave of Covid-19 but has continued his hands-off approach as the more contagious Delta variant infects large swaths of Florida's unvaccinated population."

Noting a judge stepped in on Friday and ruled DeSantis can't punish school districts for defying him, Dixon said the latest news is part of a pattern of losses for the embattled Republican who seemed invulnerable before COVID slammed his state with a vengeance.

"The multi-front Covid-19 battle is becoming inextricably linked to DeSantis' 2022 re-election bid, and more broadly his future White House aspirations. The governor remains popular with conservatives across the country and in Florida, but his steadfast refusal to implement Covid-related restrictions amid hundreds of virus-related deaths in the state and rising infection numbers has the potential to threaten his electability," Dixon explained. "A Quinnipiac University poll released this month had DeSantis' approval rating dipping below 50 percent, with 47 percent approving of his job performance, and 45 percent disapproving. Those numbers dropped to 44-51 when asked about his handling of public schools. The Quinnipiac poll follows other public polling that shows a similar erosion to DeSantis' approval rating. A St. Pete Polls survey earlier this month showed 43 percent approved of the job he was doing while 48 percent did not."

According to a GOP consultant who has worked with the governor and didn't want his name used, DeSantis is being crippled for a very good reason.

"There's no question it's impacting him politically," they said. "You can tout all the freedom and anti-lockdown that you want. There's no political strategy for sick kids and tired parents."

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