On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) easily won reelection. According to experts, his proactive response to Hurricane Ian may have helped support his campaign. Just six weeks after Tropical Storm Ian devastated the state’s southern region and a few days before Tropical Storm Nicole made landfall on the state’s East Coast, DeSantis easily defeated former governor Charlie Crist (D).
At least 114 people died in Hurricane Ian, which also caused at least $40 billion in damage to the state. Crist sought to pin this cost on DeSantis during a debate in October. At one point during the debate, Crist criticized DeSantis for attending a high school football game the night before the hurricane and said the storm’s death toll was “not a good record.” And that isn’t effective leadership.
Given that DeSantis narrowly defeated Andrew Gillum (D) in 2018 by a margin of less than 1%, Crist’s defeat by DeSantis by roughly 20 percentage points stands out for its enormous margin. According to conservative political analyst Mario Loyola of Florida International University, DeSantis’ answer to Ian most certainly increased the governor’s popularity.
Loyola cited “the Florida Power and Light Trucks and the Publix Supermarket trucks and everything, from showing out to rebuild the bridges and supply food and water,” as examples of how “DeSantis swung the state resources into action and orchestrated the answers that people could see visibly.”