Fox News Poll: Biden and Trump in tight race in Florida

Florida voters narrowly prefer presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the presidential race, as a majority says the White House was too slow in responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a head-to-head matchup, Biden bests Trump by 46-43 percent, according to a Fox News Poll of Florida registered voters.

There are enough undecided/third-party voters (12 percent) to shift the race either way, and the former vice president’s 3-point edge is within the poll’s margin of error.

Some of Trump’s highest support comes from white voters (+18), whites without a college degree (+24), and conservatives (+41).  He is underperforming among each of these groups compared to 2016, when he won whites by 32 points, no degree whites by 36, and conservatives by 62.

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Biden’s advantage is mainly due to a 12-point lead among women.  He is also the favorite among Hispanics (+18 points) and independents (+11).  Biden is over-performing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 support among women and independents, and underperforming among Hispanics.  Clinton won women by 4 points and Hispanics by 27 points, but lost independents by 4 points.

Voters “extremely” interested in the election go for Biden by 4 points (49-45 percent).

Trump won the Sunshine State by just one percentage point in 2016.  Eighty-nine percent of Republicans voted for him then.  Today, 88 percent of Republicans approve of the job he is doing and 85 percent back him in the ballot test against Biden.

Trump’s overall job rating stands at 51 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove.

“The discrepancy between the approval number and the vote is telling,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who directs the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson. “It suggests some may be okay with what Trump’s doing, but dislike how he handles himself. Those are voters the White House will be targeting over the next six months.”

Overall, 59 percent of Florida voters approve of the job Republican Ron DeSantis is doing as governor, while 33 percent disapprove.  He also gets positive marks for his handling of the coronavirus situation: 54 percent approve vs. 37 percent disapprove.

After declining to implement a statewide stay-at-home order in March and leaving Florida’s beaches open during spring break, DeSantis announced a month-long stay-at-home order April 1.

Protesters demonstrated against the lockdown April 19.

However, the poll shows only 9 percent of Florida voters think DeSantis’ measure is too restrictive.  About four times as many, 35 percent, say it is not restrictive enough.

Just over half, 52 percent, feel his stay-at-home order strikes the right balance.

By a 29-point margin, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to think the order did not go far enough, while by a 20-point margin Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say it is “about right.”

Three-quarters of Florida voters are at least somewhat concerned about catching coronavirus (75 percent) and that the pandemic will cause them economic hardship (74 percent).

A 55 percent majority says Trump’s response to coronavirus was too slow.  That includes 23 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of white evangelical Christians, and 44 percent of whites without a college degree.

In addition, 65 percent overall, and 49 percent of Republicans, think it is better to wait to reopen the economy, even if it prolongs the economic crisis.

That leaves Trump with mixed job reviews for his handling of coronavirus: 48 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove.

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He gets positive marks for his handling of the economy (53-42 percent).

Fifty-seven percent of Floridians say they are holding steady financially, while 34 percent feel they are falling behind and 7 percent say they are getting ahead.

Among those holding steady, 56 percent approve of Trump’s job performance.  His approval drops to 38 percent among those falling behind.

More voters view DeSantis favorably than unfavorably by 18 points (53 favorable, 35 unfavorable).  Biden’s personal rating is also in positive territory by nine points (52-43 percent), while Trump is underwater by one (48-49 percent).

Conducted April 18-21, 2020 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,004 Florida voters, randomly selected from a statewide voter file, who spoke with live interviewers on landlines and cellphones.  The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.  Respondents could complete the interview in English or Spanish.