The Complex Political Landscape in Florida: DeSantis Trails Trump in 2024 Race, But Gains Support Among Latinos

In the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Ron DeSantis, the current governor of Florida, is trailing behind former President Donald Trump by a significant margin, according to several polls.[0] The RealClearPolitics polling average shows that Trump holds a 44-point lead over DeSantis.[1] This gap has remained consistent, with DeSantis consistently lagging behind Trump by around 45-50 points among Republican voters.[2]

However, it is worth noting that there has been some movement towards Republicans among Latinos in Florida between 2020 and 2022, unlike the national trend.[3] This could be attributed to DeSantis, or it could be due to the unique composition of Florida’s Hispanic population, which consists mainly of people of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and South American descent.[3] These groups may have different political priorities compared to Mexican Americans, who make up the majority of Latinos nationally.

Alternatively, the increase in Republican support among Latinos in Florida could simply be due to lower turnout among Hispanic Democrats in the 2022 election. Data from Florida Democrats shows that there were more registered Latino Democrats than Republicans, but only about one-third of Hispanic Democrats actually voted compared to over half of Hispanic Republicans.[3] This disparity in turnout resulted in a higher number of Hispanic Republican voters, contributing to DeSantis’s success among Latinos in 2022.

It is important to remember that Hispanics are not a monolithic group, especially in South Florida, where political affiliations can vary widely based on factors such as generation, country of origin, and length of time spent in the US.[4] Historically, Cubans and Venezuelans in South Florida have leaned Republican, while Colombians and Puerto Ricans have tended to support Democrats.[4] In 2022, however, Cubans, Venezuelans, and even some Puerto Ricans shifted further to the right, helping DeSantis secure a majority of the Latino vote in Florida.

While DeSantis has been credited with this shift, it is worth noting that the Republican trend among Hispanics started well before the 2022 campaign.[3] In the 2020 election, Biden only received 50% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, according to Catalist.[3] This suggests that Trump himself played a significant role in appealing to Hispanic voters, particularly with his focus on reopening the economy during the pandemic and targeted outreach to Florida’s diverse Hispanic communities.[3] Additionally, the rightward swing among Latinos is not unique to Florida but is a national phenomenon.[3] Hispanic support for Democrats fell from 71% in 2016 to 62% in both 2020 and 2022.[3]

In addition to the discussion on polling and voter trends, there have been ongoing legal challenges related to voter registration in Florida. Lawsuits have alleged that the state’s voter registration form lacks eligibility requirements for those with criminal convictions, creating confusion and hindering voter registration activities.[5] There are also barriers against groups conducting voter registration drives, with fines imposed on former felons and non-U.S. citizens who register voters.[5] Voter-registration groups are required to collect sensitive personal information but cannot retain it for their defense against complaints, facing civil and criminal penalties.[5] There are also fines for late filing of registration forms.[5]

DeSantis’s struggles on the campaign trail have also affected his influence in Florida.[6] Interviews with lobbyists, political consultants, and lawmakers reveal that his presidential campaign has eroded his standing at home. Some see his candidacy as likely to end in failure, and his influence in the state may depend on how long he continues his presidential campaign and how he manages his exit from the race if he eventually drops out.[7] There is a growing sentiment among some Republicans that DeSantis’s aggressive tactics have become tiresome, and even once-close allies are distancing themselves from his control.[7]

Overall, the political landscape in Florida remains complex, with shifting voter trends, ongoing legal challenges, and internal divisions within the Republican Party. As the 2024 presidential race unfolds, it will be interesting to see how these dynamics continue to evolve and shape the future of Florida politics.

0. “Ron DeSantis is polling terribly in the first 3 states hosting GOP primary elections” LGBTQ Nation, 21 Sep. 2023,

1. “Ron DeSantis slams ‘bogus’ and ‘manufactured’ criticism he is ‘stiff’ and ‘awkward’ when Fox News anchor asks” Daily Mail, 18 Sep. 2023,

2. “Casey DeSantis’ latest attempt to boost her husband’s campaign goes haywire & Meghan McCain’s not helping either” Queerty, 18 Sep. 2023,

3. “Ron DeSantis probably didn’t turn Florida red” ABC News, 11 Sep. 2023,

4. “How did Florida become a red state?”, 18 Sep. 2023,

5. “Under DeSantis, FL has become the bellwether state for voter disenfranchisement” Colorado Newsline, 18 Sep. 2023,

6. “Pretty Much Everyone Hates Ron DeSantis Now” Yahoo News, 22 Sep. 2023,

7. “DeSantis’ influence nosedives in Florida – POLITICO” POLITICO, 22 Sep. 2023,

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