Republicans Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio are the favored candidates in next week’s mid-term elections for state Governor and U.S. Senate respectively, according to a Univision News poll of registered Latino voters in Florida.
The poll found that 42% of Latinos say they will vote for, or are inclined to vote for, Rubio, versus 38% who say they will vote, or are inclined to vote for, Democratic Party candidate Val Demings. The gap widens to eight points among respondents who say they are sure they will vote (47% to 39%).
In the case of DeSantis, 43% of Latinos say they will vote, or are inclined to vote, to keep him in office, versus 39% for Democratic Party challenger and former Governor Charlie Crist. The pattern is very similar among respondents who say they are sure they will vote (46% to 41%). The poll has a margin of error of 3.1%.
Rubio, born in Miami to a family that came from Cuba, has the backing of 54% of the state’s large Cuban-American voting blocs, compared to 26% for his rival. In addition, 55% of the smaller population of registered voters of South American origin in the state say they will support him, against 33% for Demings.
This appears to reflect Rubio’s ability to capitalize on criticism of the Venezuelan regime and other leftist governments in the region, including the newly elected governments of Chile and Colombia.
In the case of DeSantis, an equally large majority of Cuban-Americans say they plan to vote for him (53% vs. 27% for Crist), while he performs less well with voters of South American origin, dropping to 44% versus 43% for Crist (a difference that falls within the margin of error for that segment of the sample).
DeSantis has managed to identify himself nationally with Republican voters, competing with former President Donald Trump for the conservative base of the party, making him a possible contender for the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nomination.
Unlike Cuban-American voters, who lean towards the Republican Party, Puerto Ricans, who are the other major national group tracked in the survey, lean towards the Democratic Party.
In the Senate race, voters identifying as Puerto Rican say they favor Demings by a margin of 43% to 31%. In the gubernatorial race they give a slight edge to Crist (41% to 37%, a technical tie). In the House of Representatives race they are inclined to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats over Republicans (48% to 31%).
The intention of voters of South American origin is much less clear. They approve of President Joe Biden's performance (59% vs. 41%), view the performance of Democrats in Congress favorably, and say they plan to vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives (50% vs. 39%).
But they are inclined to vote overwhelmingly for Rubio and DeSantis, and their opinion of Donald Trump is quite positive (48% vs. 41%).
Regarding LGBTQ rights, the view of South American voters is the most conservative of all registered Latino voters in Florida, including Cuban-Americans. They are the ethnic group most supportive of banning LGBTQ clubs (53% vs. 38% of Latinos overall) and the most supportive of banning books that discuss racism and LGBTQ issues in public schools (66% vs. 56% of Latinos overall).
Of all registered Latino voters in the state, 47% see this as a priority, followed by rising health care costs (24%) and jobs (23%).
Abortion is only a priority for 13% of voters (16% among women). However, 73% of all groups polled would support a law guaranteeing abortion rights for those in need.
The Univision News poll was conducted by an academic and bipartisan team led by Univision Polling Director and LBJ School professor Sergio Garcia-Rios, in collaboration with BSP Research and Shaw & Company Research.
Methodology: Univision News commissioned a representative survey in Florida with Latino registered voters age 18 and over. Interviews for this survey were conducted between October 19 and October 26, 2022. Data were collected using both probability and non-probability sample sources for a total of 800 observations. The overall margin of error for the combined sample is +/- 3.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. Surveys were administered in English or Spanish at the discretion of the respondent and included a mix of cell phone, landline telephone, text-to-web, and online self-completed interviews; all respondents were verified to be registered voters. We provide results for all registered voters (n=800) and among likely voters ( n = 533). The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling for Univision, and administered by BSP Research and Shaw & Co.