Nikki Fried leads in Democratic primary for Florida governor, UNF poll shows

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A recent poll conducted by the University of North Florida shows candidate Nikki Fried ahead of Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary election for governor, but behind Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis in a head-to-head race among registered voters.

When asked who registered Democrats would vote for among the Democratic nominees for governor in the Aug. 23 primary election, the poll showed 47% of likely voters said they'd choose Fried, while 43% said they would vote for Crist. At least 5% said they'd vote for other candidates – Cadance Daniel and Robert Willis – while 6% said they didn't know or refused to answer. 

"Fried seems to have reversed the eight-point lead that Crist had when we asked registered Democrats about vote choice in February," Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science, said in a statement. "It’s possible that the overturning of Roe v. Wade changed the make-up of this race, and has particularly energized women that are almost 20 points more likely to vote for her."

If the general midterm election were held today and the candidates in the governor's race were Fried and DeSantis, 50% said they would vote for DeSantis and 43% indicated a vote for Fried. Five percent of registered voters said they would vote for someone else. When asked the same question if the Democratic candidate was Crist, 50% said they would vote for DeSantis and 42% said they would vote for Crist. at least 6% said they would vote for someone else. 


The poll also asked who registered Democrats would vote for in the primary for the U.S. Senate seat, and an overwhelming majority – 80% – indicated they would vote for Val Demings, while William Sanchez and Brian Rush tied for second with 4% each. Two percent of likely voters said they would vote for Ricardo de la Fuente, and 10% were unsure or refused, poll results show. Demings came on top in a head-to-head race against Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, with 48% voting for Demings and 44% for Rubio, poll results show. At least 7% said they would vote for someone else.

ST PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 28: Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) gives a campaign speech in front of her supporters on June 28, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. Rep. Demings is campaigning to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Sena

In a hypothetical presidential primary in 2024 between DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, DeSantis had a slight lead at 47%, with 45% likely to vote for Trump. At least 7% said they would vote for someone else.  

The poll also asked likely voters if they approved of the job both DeSantis and Fried are doing. Forty-five percent said they strongly approve of the job DeSantis is doing as governor, while 40% approved of the job Fried is doing as agricultural commissioner.

Likely voters were asked what they think is the most important problem facing Florida today. At least 43% said cost of living was the most pressing issue. Tied in a distant second at 8% each, likely voters also indicated education and abortion/reproductive rights.

See the results of the poll in its entirety by clicking here