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DeSantis legacy may continue in Florida after 2026: Voters pick governor’s wife over controversial congressman, poll reveals


Florida – As Governor Ron DeSantis approaches the end of his term in 2027, speculation is already swirling about who might be next to occupy the governor’s mansion in Florida. A new political poll sheds light on potential candidates and voter preferences as the state looks toward its future leadership.

DeSantis legacy may continue in Florida after 2026: Voters pick governor's wife over controversial congressman, poll reveals

Ron DeSantis, first elected in 2018 and re-elected by a significant margin in 2022, is constitutionally barred from running in the 2026 gubernatorial election. This limitation sets the stage for a succession battle within the Republican party.

A Hypothetical Matchup

A recent poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University and Mainstreet Research presents an intriguing scenario for the 2026 election. In a hypothetical primary matchup, First Lady Casey DeSantis emerges as a favorite among Republican voters. The poll shows that 38% of respondents would support her candidacy over U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, who received only 16% of the support.

Casey DeSantis has not officially announced any plans to run for governor, nor has Matt Gaetz. However, the interest in Casey DeSantis’s potential candidacy is evident and points to her popularity within the state. She has been a prominent figure throughout her husband’s administration, particularly in her advocacy for mental health following her successful battle against breast cancer in 2022.

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Matt Gaetz, known for his close ties with former President Donald Trump and his prominent role in national politics as a congressman from Pensacola, is also seen as a possible contender. Yet, the poll indicates that there is still much room for new candidates to make their mark on the race, with 26% of GOP voters undecided and 20% expressing support for another candidate.

Voter Uncertainty and Openings for New Candidates

Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., co-director of FAU’s Political Communication and Public Opinion Research Lab and a professor of political science, commented on the findings. “There is clear interest among Republican voters in seeing Casey DeSantis run for governor in 2026,” he said. Wagner also noted that the race remains open for new candidates to emerge in the coming years.

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The poll, conducted from April 15 to 17, surveyed 865 adults in Florida and has a margin of error of +/- 3.3%. This early data suggests that while the Republican primary for governor could be competitive, the DeSantis legacy may yet play a pivotal role in shaping Florida’s political landscape post-2027.

As the political dynamics continue to evolve, the interest in both established and new potential candidates will likely intensify, shaping the strategic decisions of the Republican Party in Florida. The complete results of the poll can be accessed here, providing a deeper insight into the voter preferences and trends as the 2026 gubernatorial race begins to take shape.

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