Ron DeSantis Receives Strong Signs of Approval for Hurricane Ian Response: Poll

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received high marks for his response to Hurricane Ian, according to a new poll.

Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida last month, bringing strong winds and severe flooding to the Fort Myers and Cape Coral area. The storm left a trail of damage, killing at least 125 people and leaving thousands more to cope with its devastation. Efforts to rebuild communities hit by Ian are already underway, with state and federal governments working together to provide relief to Florida residents.

The hurricane served as a test for DeSantis — a 2018 Republican elected for his sometimes outspoken political style — ahead of Florida’s Nov. 8 gubernatorial election. DeSantis is challenged by Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist. Throughout the relief effort, DeSantis received praise for appearing to put aside partisan politics and working with the White House to coordinate the relief efforts.

Voters approved of DeSantis’ hurricane response, according to a new report The economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 US adults Oct. 1-4. The survey has an error rate of about 3 percentage points.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said they either strongly or somewhat approve of DeSantis’ handling of the hurricane. That included 80 percent Republicans and 43 percent Democrats — a sign of bipartisan support for the governor, whose administration has been slammed over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and controversial legislation, including the enacted “Don’t Say Gay” Act that came under scrutiny earlier this year.

Most Americans also approve of the government’s overall response to Hurricane Ian, according to the poll.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they agreed with the federal government’s response to the hurricane, 60 percent agreed with the state government’s response, and 60 percent agreed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response, according to the survey.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat who was a target of DeSantis, praised him in a moment of bipartisanship while examining the hurricane damage while visiting the state on Wednesday. “What the governor has done is quite remarkable,” Biden said during a news conference. “I think he did a good job.”

DeSantis receives high praise for responding to Hurricane Ian
Above: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Fort Myers on October 5. DeSantis received high marks for his response to Hurricane Ian, which devastated parts of southwest Florida last month.

However, there has been some criticism of the response to the storm. Officials in Lee County, the hardest-hit area by the hurricane, came under scrutiny on Sept. 27 — less than a day before the hurricane hit — for issuing their evacuation orders. DeSantis defended local officials, saying they were “following the data” on where the storm was expected to hit.

He also accused the “national regime media” of wanting the hurricane to hit Florida to advance a “political agenda.”

Response from DeSantis could increase re-election chances

DeSantis, who has strong support from voters for his handling of the recovery from Hurricane Ian, could benefit his re-election bid — as well as future election prospects. Florida has long been one of the most evenly divided states, with Democrats trying to seize control of the governorship for the first time since the 1990s.

Pollsters haven’t released independent polls conducted in the wake of the hurricane, but DeSantis has already been seen as a favorite for re-election. According to FiveThirtyEight polling results, he leads in recent polls by 6.5 percentage points over Crist, who served as governor as a Republican and independent governor from 2007 to 2011.

Hurricane Ian Latest Updates

Relief efforts in Southwest Florida have made progress. Bridge repairs to Pine Island were restored by Wednesday. Meanwhile, crews were working to restore access to the Sanibel Causeway, according to a press release from the DeSantis office.

The federal government has also made efforts to bring relief to Floridians. Biden issued an expedited disaster declaration for the storm and offered “direct federal assistance for costs related to search and rescue, shelter, feeding and other emergency response to save lives” for 60 days, according to the White House.

news week reached out to the DeSantis office for comment. Ron DeSantis Receives Strong Signs of Approval for Hurricane Ian Response: Poll

Rick Schindler

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