Abortion Is More Popular Than Ron DeSantis

It's been one month since the state's abortion ban took effect, and an abortion rights ballot measure is currently polling at 69% support compared to DeSantis’ 52% approval rating.

Abortion Is More Popular Than Ron DeSantis

Abortion rights are broadly popular across the U.S., even among Republican voters, and even in states that have banned abortion. Florida is the latest example of this. About one month after a six-week abortion ban took effect in the state, effectively decimating abortion access across the South, a new poll conducted by Fox News shows a Florida abortion rights ballot measure polling at 69% support. The proposed amendment, which would enshrine a right to abortion through the point of fetal viability, polls at 50% support even among Republican voters in the state, with just 45% of Republican voters opposed.

In contrast, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has a 52% approval rating, which… seems high to me for a guy whose climate positions are actively helping to sink the state with each passing day. DeSantis has a 47% disapproval rating. Among Independents, he has 31% approval to 66% disapproval. 

These numbers speak to challenges that DeSantis and Florida Republicans may face campaigning against the abortion rights measure ahead of the November election. In April, the state Supreme Court ruled that the near-total ban could take effect, while simultaneously green-lighting the abortion ballot measure. It probably won’t help Republicans’ cause that in the month since the ban took effect, it’s already taken a devastating toll—as predicted. 

During a Monday press call, Stephanie Loraine Pineiro, executive director of the Florida Access Network abortion fund, called the state ban “the biggest change in the abortion access landscape since Dobbs [v. Jackson Women’s Health].” According to Pineiro, since the ban took effect, FAN has “already funded 150 people” and is set to spend $150,000 post-ban by the end of July. At least half of FAN’s clients have been forced to leave the state, Pineiro said, “on average traveling over 900 miles.” In 2023, FAN dispersed $400,000 to support 1,500 Floridians for their abortions and abortion-related travel, Pineiro said.

Last month, Calla Hales, executive director of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, told Jezebel that Florida’s abortion ban is “not just not sustainable, but not really survivable” because of its broader regional impact. A Preferred Women’s Health Center has two clinics in North Carolina (where abortion is banned at about 12 weeks), as well as two clinics in Georgia.

In 2023, Florida provided 80,000 abortions, including about 7,000 people who traveled from another state. According to the state’s health department, more than 1,300 of the 15,000 abortions performed in Florida so far in 2024 have been for out-of-state patients. “This is now 80,000 people without anywhere to go,” Hales said in May. “The logistics of fitting that in somewhere else is not only mind-boggling but probably impossible.”

Come November, Florida’s proposed abortion rights measure will need to receive 60% of the vote to pass, in a state where voter suppression is notoriously rampant. (And if the measure does pass, the process of validating and enforcing it could be a whole ordeal in itself, as we’ve seen in Ohio.) Passing the measure will come with challenges; but it’s at least encouraging that, as DeSantis and Florida anti-abortion leaders try to stop the measure, polling shows it’s objectively more popular than they are.

Reproductive rights have been broadly popular when put to a direct vote via ballot measure since Dobbs in 2022. That’s precisely why anti-abortion leaders and Republican state government officials have deployed a variety of underhanded methods to try to stop these measures.

In the meantime, abortion will be inaccessible across Florida and the entire South. Lauren Brenzel, the campaign director for the Floridians Protecting Freedom coalition that’s leading the way on the abortion ballot measure, said in May that Florida’s six-week ban is “the largest single loss of care that we’ve seen since the overturn of Roe.” A month later, the most recent polling shows Florida voters seem fairly aware of the stakes.

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