Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis Enjoys an Uptick in Popularity


ST. LEO, FL – Though the impeachment inquiry facing President Donald J. Trump is all over the headlines, the most recent survey from the nonpartisan Saint Leo University Polling Institute (https://polls.saintleo.edu) shows that President Trump’s job-approval rating is fairly steady, with 43.4 percent of Americans surveyed in mid-November giving him good marks. Fifty-five percent disapprove of his job performance.

The results are not much different from the last time the Saint Leo University Polling Institute asked the same question in April 2019. Trump’s national job approval rating then was positive among 41.8 percent of national respondents. Similar results came from the simultaneous survey the Saint Leo polling institute conducts among voters in its home state of Florida (also now the primary residence of the president). The November results from Florida show that 45.6 percent approve of Trump’s job performance, compared to 40.4 percent who were approving in April.

In the studies, Saint Leo maintained its standard practice of collecting responses from 1,000 respondents nationally, resulting in a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. Saint Leo also regularly surveys a distinct sample of 500 respondents in Florida, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The most recent pair of surveys were conducted from November 13 through 18. The questions reached respondents after the October start of the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, about the delayed delivery of U.S. aid to the nation, and Trump’s request that the foreign entity investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

“Although the president’s approval rating goes up and down slightly, opinions of his job performance are by now baked into the pumpkin pie,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, and a political scientist.

The precise question was put to polling respondents this way, with the following responses recorded in November and previously in April.

                                     How would you rate the job Donald J. Trump is doing as president?

Possible responses November 2019
U.S. – %
November 2019
Florida – %
April 2019
U.S.  %
April 2019
Florida – %
Strongly approve 22.6 27.6 22.2 23.0
Somewhat approve 20.8 18.0 19.6 17.4
Combined approval 43.4 45.6 41.8 40.4
Somewhat disapprove 10.7 10.8 10.9 11.4
Strongly disapprove 44.3 40.6 44.2 43.6
Combined disapproval 55.0 51.4 55.1 55.0


Less than 2 percent nationally and only 3 percent in Florida were unsure how to rate the president.

Orlando said, “Barring incontrovertible bombshells one way or the other, those who oppose will continue to find reasons to do so, and those who support him will do likewise. This is part of a decades-long shift of less dynamic approval as a result of polarization. Fewer and fewer people are unsure what to make of the president because their mind is made up before they hear new facts.”

Recent results also show the majority of Republicans in the Saint Leo November survey continue to support Trump: 85.5 percent in the national base, and 84 percent in the Florida results. Among the base of independent voters in the national sample, 39.6 percent approve of Trump’s job performance, while 40.5 percent in the Florida base are approving. Support for Trump among Democrats is weak at 12.4 percent nationally, and 14.2 percent in Florida.

The two issues of healthcare, and jobs and the economy, continue on the very top of concerns cited when respondents were asked to choose the single most important issue facing the nation. Healthcare came in at 18.7 percent nationally, and at 20.8 percent in Florida, little changed from April responses. Jobs and the economy was cited 14.4 percent nationally (exactly the same as in April) and in Florida. Immigration came in third, at above 11 percent nationally and in Florida in the most recent survey. Immigration was cited by a notably higher percent nationally in April: 18.3 percent compared to the more recent 11.6 percent, meaning it ranked second among the top concerns in the spring. It was followed by jobs and the economy.

According to Orlando, President Trump benefits from the voting public’s interest in these issues, as the economy is “still doing well.” And yet, Trump would prefer that even more people focus on the economy rather than on other issues, Orlando said. “His approval lags where it would be historically if a president was at the helm of an economy like this,” the political scientist explained.

Other national political leaders static in ratings too

The job-approval ratings of the nation’s highest-ranking politicians aside from the president also indicate little change from recent polls. Vice President Mike Pence’s national approval rating is practically unchanged at 44 percent and in, where it is at Florida at 47 percent, is up just under 4 percentage points (within the margin of error). U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received an approval rating of 27.4 percent nationally, off less than a percentage point from April. Among Florida respondents, his approval rating is 35.4 percent, which is up 4.2 percentage points from April, but that gain falls within the state level margin of error.

Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has a November approval rating of 42.7 percent, just slightly up from 39 percent in April. In the Florida sample, 41 percent approve of her job performance, a change of 2.2 percentage points from the April result of a 43.2 approval rating.

“It’s not a surprise,” Orlando said of the way the response base apparently thinks of the career politicians’ job-performance in relation to the politicians’ loyalties in current presidential politics. “Valuations of President Trump have made their way down to party leaders in the legislature.”

Florida governor and U.S. senators rated higher than Trump

More than two-thirds of the respondents to the Florida survey are saying good things about the job performance of Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican supported by President Trump. The results show that 68.2 percent of the polling sample either strongly approve or somewhat approve of the governor’s job performance. This is the same group of Florida respondents who gave Trump a 45.6 positive approval rating.

More than 10 percent are unsure of how to rate the governor’s job performance.

How would you rate the job Ron DeSantis is doing as governor?

Possible responses November 2019 % April 2019 % 
Strongly approve 34.0 27.2
Somewhat approve 34.2 34.6
Combined approve 68.2 61.8
Somewhat disapprove 11.8 11.6
Strongly disapprove 8.0 9.6
Combined disapprove 19.8 21.2
Unsure 12.0 17.0

The two U.S. senators from Florida, Republicans Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, were awarded with more positive than negative ratings in the November survey. Scott, who preceded DeSantis as governor, has a combined approval rating of 56.8 percent, which is up from 47 percent in April. And the recent survey shows Rubio with a 55.4 percent approval rating in Florida, up from 46.2 percent in April.

“Ron DeSantis continues to pace Florida Republicans in terms of approval as he has avoided any major controversies and overseen a positive economic landscape,” said Orlando, the Saint Leo polling director. “This extended honeymoon period bodes well for his effectiveness in working with the Florida Legislature this spring.”

Orlando added that “Both Scott and Rubio may be benefitting from the calm before the storm of impeachment. If and when a trial occurs in the Senate, I would expect their job approval to become more in line with President Trump’s in the state.”

About the Poll

METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted from November 13 through November 18, 2019, among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally, using an online instrument. The national sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

During the same time frame, the same online survey was administered to a sample of 500 residents of Florida. The Florida poll has a +/- 4.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis).

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications jo-ann.johnston@saintleo.edu or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text), or (352) 588-8237.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 19,500 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 32 education centers in seven states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 95,000 alumni. Learn more at saintleo.edu.