Numer one. A year ago, 58% was Governor DeSantis’s approval rating as he rolled out his budget which called for 2020 to be “The Year of Teacher”. Broadly popular at the time, the governor boldly laid out his plan for the largest increase in teacher salaries in Florida’s history with a pay structure that would take Florida’s teachers from being below average in compensation to among the top in the country. This as he outlined the continuation of record spending for environmental projects and pushed reform for the contamination of Florida’s waterways.
In many respects, it feels like much longer than a year ago because as DeSantis laid out his plans for the year, he nor we, knew what was about to hit us. In the end, the pandemic took its toll on numerous agenda items. He vetoed over a billion dollars in projects approved by the state legislature. Saying, “we are dealing with something that is unprecedented and we’ve just got to be very responsible”. Part of being “very responsible” was holding the line by delivering on his top priorities even in the midst of the pandemic.
Number two. Florida ranks 30th in population adjusted COVID-19 cases to date. That means 29 states have had a higher concentration of their citizens contract the virus than Florida. This includes Florida not only having a lower COVID-19 case count than the rest of the country on average it’s also the lowest of the three largest states with both Texas and California. The pragmatic approach of Governor DeSantis proved more effective than the approach of 29 other states including the most draconian of them all in California. That pragmatism hasn’t just resulted in better outcomes for Floridians than other states, it’s also led to an unemployment rate that is 9% lower than the national average and 32% lower than California.
Lastly, Governor Desantis’s approval rating today is 54%. That's based on yesterday’s Florida Chamber of Commerce poll. Despite dipping into the low 40’s at points during the pandemic last year, it appears as though most Floridians have realized reality from the nonsense. In one sense it’s remarkable Governor DeSantis’s approval rating isn’t higher than it was this time a year ago given his performance leading the state through the pandemic. It’s likewise remarkable how it’s only four points lower given the unprecedented effort by news outlets to use the pandemic to misled Floridians and tear DeSantis down. This year as he’s advancing his “Florida Leads” budget which calls for a $286 million increase in public school funding from last year’s records, along with $625 million for environmental funding ranging from the Everglades Restoration Project to proposals to assist local governments with the sea-level rise. He might, in theory, be advancing it as a slightly less approved of the governor. In my eyes, he’s more credible than ever.
Photo by: Joe Raedle/Getty Images