Poll: Crist Overtakes Florida Gov. DeSantis Amid COVID Surge

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is slightly outpolling current Gov. Ron DeSantis as COVID-19 cases are rising in the state, according to a new poll.

St. Pete Polls released the survey on Tuesday, showing Crist, currently serving as a Democratic member of Congress, with 45% support to Republican DeSantis’ 44%. Eleven percent say they are undecided.

Crist’s 1-point lead is within the poll’s 1.6-point margin of error.

A St. Pete Polls survey in May showed that only 30% of voters believed that Crist, who was a Republican when he served as Florida governor from 2007 to 2011, would be able to defeat DeSantis in 2022, and that Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner, would be a better opponent.

Crist, who joined the Democratic Party in 2012, was down by double digits to DeSantis in previous polls.

The poll of 3,952 likely Florida voters was conducted Aug. 2-3. Interviews were conducted by phone by random sample and were weighted for demographics.

Both RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight include St. Pete Polls in their polling aggregation.

DeSantis, an ally of former President Donald Trump, has been popular among conservatives for keeping businesses open and opposing mask mandates and lockdowns during the COVID -19 pandemic.

But Florida has become a hot spot for the virus as the delta variant has spread in recent weeks. Crist last week accused DeSantis of neglecting his duties as governor, saying that “we don’t have leadership.”

Florida broke records over the weekend for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Crist urged DeSantis on Tuesday to require that state employees be vaccinated. He has previously accused the governor of spending too much time worrying about the border crisis than the COVID crisis in his own state.

“What’s he [DeSantis] doing about it? He’s going to Texas. He goes to the border. Texas. You’re the governor of Florida, you know,” Crist said. “He doesn’t understand. And you know he’s spending our tax dollars out there, giving our law enforcement to Texas while people are dying in Florida. Unbelievable.”

Addressing Crist’s suggestion of a vaccine mandate of state workers, DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said: “Gov. DeSantis does not believe it is the state’s role to make personal medical decisions for individuals.”

She added that the vaccine prevents serious illness and death and that that “should be motivation for people to choose to get vaccinated.”

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