Demings leads Rubio in heated Senate race, DeSantis remains voters’ top choice for governor in new poll

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Democratic candidate Val Demings is leading GOP Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida’s tight U.S. Senate race, while Nikki Fried tops opponents as most likely candidate to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis in the November midterms, according to a new poll.

The University of North Florida released the results of a survey Tuesday that revealed Florida voters’ choices for the state’s gubernatorial and Senate primary races, while also looking ahead to November.

Demings, the former chief of police in Orlando and current congresswoman, was ahead in the Aug. 23 Democratic Senate primary with 80% support. Candidates Candace Daniel and Robert Willis lagged with less than 5% of the vote.

When Florida voters were asked about November’s midterm Senate race, Demings came out on top against Rubio with 48% support to Rubio’s 44%.


Rep. Val Demings, D, Fla., is running for U.S. Senate.
(Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

Elizabeth Gregory, spokeswoman for the Rubio campaign, reacted to the poll in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

“This is Florida, and we’ve always said it would be a tight race,” Gregory said. “This is a choice between Marco’s proven record of results and Val Demings, who votes 100% of the time for Pelosi’s failed agenda. Given that choice, we are more than confident that we will win.”

“The more Florida voters know about Chief Demings, the more they like her,” Demings’ spokesperson Christian Slater told Fox News Digital in a statement. “That’s why we are laser-focused on aggressively introducing her to every corner of the state and bringing our message to every community. And our grassroots fundraising makes it possible. While Marco Rubio desperately begs for donations on Fox News, Chief Demings is building a campaign fueled by supporters who are fired up and ready to defeat a career politician who doesn’t show up for work.”

In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the poll found that 47% of likely Democratic voters in Florida would choose Nikki Fried in the primary, while 43% favored Charlie Crist. The winner of the primary will advance to the general election in November to face DeSantis.


“Fried seems to have reversed the eight-point lead that Crist had when we asked registered Democrats about vote choice in February,” University of North Florida political science Dr. Michael Binder said. “It’s possible that the overturning of Roe v. Wade changed the makeup of this race and has particularly energized women that are almost 20 points more likely to vote for her.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading the midterm race for Florida governor.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading the midterm race for Florida governor.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In June, the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, removing a judicial precedent that recognized a right to abortion, and giving states the ability to place restrictions on the procedure. DeSantis has pushed to secure a 15-week abortion ban in the state despite facing setbacks from a Florida judge who tried to block the new law

Gov. DeSantis polled ahead of his possible midterm contenders, with 50% saying he had their vote over both Fried and Crist, who each received roughly 40% of support from likely voters. Though DeSantis is leading the race, his numbers are down 20 percentage points from the university’s February poll.

DeSantis also held a slight edge over former President Trump in a hypothetical 2024 race among likely Republican voters in Florida, beating Trump 47-45. President Biden received an approval rating of 38% from Floridians. 

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has been a senator in Florida since 2011.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has been a senator in Florida since 2011.
(Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

According to the poll, over 40% of respondents said cost of living was the most important issue in the state after inflation hit a 40-year-high in the United States in July.


The University of North Florida poll was conducted Aug. 8-12th with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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