The latest Public Opinion Strategies (POS) poll shows Florida Governor Ron DeSantis outpacing former President Donald Trump in battleground Florida — at least in a head-to-head matchup with President Joe Biden.
But the POS poll once again underrepresents traditional Trump voters in its latest quest to spin DeSantis as more electable than the Republican Party presidential nomination frontrunner, a top pollster told The Georgia Star News.
The poll of 500 registered Peach State voters, first published Tuesday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shows Biden narrowly beating Trump (43 percent to 42 percent), while DeSantis tops Biden (46 percent to 41 percent). The survey, conducted April 25-27, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, according to POS.
“DeSantis runs better than Trump against Biden among white voters, independent voters, and Senior Citizens — all constituencies a GOP candidate needs to be successful in Georgia,” POS partners write in a memo to the Citizen Awareness Project.
Just who is behind the shadowy Citizen Awareness Project, and just who is paying POS for such positive poll results for the Florida governor, remains a mystery.
The Star News obtained demographic and other background data on the poll.
Comparing the POS survey’s topline to the CNN’s 2020 Georgia exit poll uncovers some significant differences, differences exposed in previous POS battleground state polls showing DeSantis faring better against Biden than Trump.
As Trump pollster John McLaughlin points out, the former president does better among working-class voters without college degrees, as well as white voters and conservatives. The POS poll surveys fewer working-class voters, and fewer conservatives.
In the 2020 exit poll, 40 percent of respondents had a college degree, while 60 percent did not. POS’ Georgia voter survey included 48 percent of respondents had a college degree, and 52 percent did not — a 16 percentage point difference.
As for ideology mix, 40 percent of the 2020 exit poll respondents identified as conservatives, 38 percent moderates, and 22 percent liberal. POS’ ideology mix in Georgia includes 35 percent conservatives, 40 percent moderates, and 19 percent liberals — for a total net difference in conservatives and moderates surveyed of 7 percentage points.
“Another big bias,” said McLaughlin CEO and partner with pollster McLaughlin & Associates.
“The shift away from working class voters, no geography tabs, fewer conservatives … were meant to hurt Trump in the poll,” McLaughlin aid. “If modeled to 2020 turnout, Trump would beat Biden in Georgia.”
It’s clear from Public Opinion Strategies’ memo the firm sent to The Star News upon request that somebody really wants to sell DeSantis as the Republican Party primary choice over Trump.
“Biden’s approval rating is negative, but only DeSantis, NOT Trump, can take advantage,” the memo states. “Even with Biden’s job approval rating upside‐down (41% approve‐54% disapprove), Trump cannot take advantage as he trails the President.”
It’s the same argument POS has been making in other battleground states: That Trump can’t beat Biden, but DeSantis can. The polling firm has raised the same questions in Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania, as well as first-in-the-nation nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire.
The GOP firm’s Wisconsin poll, for instance, showed DeSantis and Biden tied at 45 percent in a hypothetical matchup, while Trump trailed Biden by 4 percentage points (47 percent to 43 percent).
But the numbers don’t square with many other polls. Trump, the front-running Republican presidential candidate in the vast majority of polls, was up by 29 points over DeSantis in Wednesday’s RealClearPolitics average of polls. The latest Economist/YouGov poll has Trump and Biden tied in a face-off, with DeSantis lagging Biden by 3 percentage points.
Trump announced his bid for the Republican Party presidential nomination late last year; DeSantis is expected to make his campaign official later this month.
The latest Public Opinion Strategies poll rolls out as Never Back Down, a DeSantis-supporting super PAC, blankets Iowa voter inboxes with messages similar to the POS poll memo.
“No other conservative in the race is polling above Biden. No other Republican has the backbone, leadership, and determination to help turn our country around,” the political action committee says in a new fundraising appeal.
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