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A new poll out of Florida shows that the recent move by Governor Ron DeSantis to transport migrants from Texas to the Northeast could come back to haunt him in his re-election bid against Democrat Charlie Crist.
After months in the lead, DeSantis trails Crist by 6 points in a poll by The Political Matrix and The Listener Group. If accurate, it would represent a wild swing in the race. A landline poll of likely voters from The Listener Group in June of 2021 showed DeSantis with a nearly double-digit lead over all potential Democratic opponents, meaning the move to ship migrants would have resulted in an almost 16-point shift in the polls.
By comparison, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this June to overturn the landmark abortion protections under Roe v. Wade only shifted the national generic ballot by about 4.5 points. To date, polling aggregates by FiveThirtyEight showed DeSantis with a 6-point lead over Crist with fewer than 50 days to the election.
Though the new poll is an outlier, Greg Fink—a conservative-leaning strategic consultant for The Listener Group—said he stands by the result, saying it matches a decline in DeSantis' support that began with his targeting of school boards that did not support his 2021 executive order banning masks in schools.
In June, Fink's firm polled the race again and found the two virtually tied, and since then, DeSantis' support in their polling has begun to falter.
"DeSantis was like nine points ahead for like, three polls," Fink told Newsweek. "All of a sudden, he just got behind, and he hasn't come back from it."
DeSantis boasts a gargantuan fundraising advantage over Crist, who has failed to attract significant investment from the national party in a state that has traditionally ranked among the nation's most competitive.
Groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee have begun to issue fundraising emails supportive of DeSantis' decision, indicating some confidence that they believe they're winning the messaging battle over the move, even as polls show the country's voters were generally divided over the decision.
While Fink's poll results were different from others, he pointed to the firm's track record—accurate calls on President Donald Trump's margin of victory in the state during the 2020 presidential election and Crist's landslide win over Nikki Fried in the Democratic primary for which others projected a Fried victory—as a sign that the poll should not be so easily dismissed.
"They thought we were crazy," Fink said. "Everyone thought we were stupid as hell. And we ended up being right."