TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The November midterms are almost upon Florida and two key races are up to voters to decide the state’s future. The coming elections with the biggest visibility are the Florida governor’s race, pitting Gov. Ron DeSantis against former congressman Charlie Crist, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio facing former congresswoman Val Demings.

According to a new poll from the University of South Florida, both races are skewing to favor the Republican candidates, both of whom are incumbents. The poll said as far as favorability, DeSantis has a 52% favorable rating, while Crist has a 31%.

In the Senate match up, Rubio is ranked at 40% favorable to Demings’ 33%. The poll was conducted by USF as the two races’ debates were held. Rubio and Demings clashed in an Oct. 18 televised debate while DeSantis and Crist argued for their own elections Monday night.

The USF poll said the biggest issue in the election for the governor was economic, 80% of those surveyed said the choice for governor would shape the state’s future. The respondents said pocketbook issues were more important than social values issues in this year’s races.

The survey also found that less than half of the respondents were happy with how President Joe Biden is handling the economy, and even fewer approve of current foreign policy decisions. While partisan politics have intensified in recent years, the USF poll found a portion of respondents felt unrepresented by both major parties, with “less than half” of them saying they had a favorable view of Democrats or Republicans.

“Nearly one in five (24%) say that the Democratic Party now represents the values of only its most extreme voters, while even more (30%) say the same about the Republican party,” the survey reported. “In each case, only 38% of respondents felt that either party was representative of ‘moderate’ voters.”

Almost two-thirds of the respondents said that they were not confident the two sets of politicians could work together for what their constituents need. In Florida, 65% of those surveyed said they were either “not very” confident or “not at all confident” in Democrat and Republicans’ abilities to work together in the state. Focusing on national divisions instead, 74% said they did not have confidence that politicians in Washington could work together.

The negativity is making optimism about the future drop, according to USF. According to the survey results:

  • When asked about America’s future, a majority of respondents (57%) said that they worry that the country’s best days may be behind us.  
  • Only 27% expressed confidence that America’s best days are still to come.  
  • Only 46% felt that Democratic Party leaders “are optimistic when they talk about America’s future.” 
  • Only 41% said the same of Republicans. 

Support for a more moderate “third party”:  

  • When asked if they would support the formation of a more centrist third party, 46% of Floridians said that they would be at least somewhat supportive of the idea.
  • Meanwhile, 46% also said that they would be at least somewhat likely to vote for a third-party candidate for president (if the candidate were qualified to serve in the office and held centrist views that were a compromise between traditional Republican and Democratic positions.)

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