Back in April, Palmer Report wrote that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was more likely to lose reelection in 2022 than win. We based this on his iffy approval rating, his worsening scandals, the fact that he only got elected by 0.4 points to begin with, his insistence on clinging to the Trump playbook no matter ineffective it proved to be for him, and the inevitability that his large ego and lack of political savvy would cause him to end up sabotaging himself.
Sure enough, that’s now bearing out in terms that even skeptics are now beginning to see. DeSantis’ approval rating has gone from iffy to mildly ugly. His scandals are indeed worsening, and he’s handling them in self destructive ways. He’s also losing to one of his Democratic challengers in one recent poll. In other words, the Florida Governor’s mansion is indeed in play in 2022 – and it’s not the only one.
New polling this week has Democratic candidate Val Demings just two points behind Republican Senator Marco Rubio in their 2022 contest. To be clear, this early in a race, a high profile incumbent like Rubio (or DeSantis) should be well ahead of challengers based on name recognition alone. For Rubio to be only ahead by two points of Demings, at this stage of the game, means that he’s currently losing.
So now we have tangible, numerical proof that both major statewide elections in Florida are officially in play in 2022. The election is a long way away, and plenty can happen between now and then. DeSantis is betting big that his highly unpopular anti-mask stance will somehow make him more popular, and Rubio strangely seems to be betting on DeSantis.
These two Republicans will continue to find ways to screw up their own political fortunes over the next year. Then again, they will also try to find new ways to incrementally cheat. But as we saw with Donald Trump’s failed series of election stunts in 2020, no amount of cheating by an incumbent can overcome sufficient voter turnout.
Florida is officially in play. The Democrats have solid candidates across the board, from Val Demings in the Senate race, to Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist in the race for Governor. The outcome will come down to any number of factors. But the number one factor will be whether you – that’s right, you, the person reading this – end up deciding to put in the work required to fight and win.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report