Despite his rising national profile, Republican Representative Matt Gaetz’s popularity in his district and home state is very low.
Matt Gaetz Faces a Revolt in His Hometown
A Florida Atlantic University Mainstreet PolCom Lab poll released last week indicates that about 21% of respondents in the state of Florida approve of the work that Gaetz, 41, is doing in Congress.
In the survey of 946 Floridians, Gaetz received 46% “strong disapproval.”
The survey was carried out from October 27 to November 11. This includes the time of chaos in the GOP that followed Kevin McCarthy’s ousting as Speaker led by Gaetz.
Ultimately, Louisiana native and ardent conservative Mike Johnson was elected as House Speaker.
Initially, Gaetz sought to succeed his term-limited father, Don Gaetz, the former president of the Florida Senate, after beginning his career as a state representative in 2010. But his course was altered when an unexpected U.S. Congress seat became available in his district.
Lawyer Gaetz was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016 to represent Florida’s 1st congressional district.
According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, Florida’s 1st congressional district is the state’s most Republican district and one of the reddest districts in the nation.
All of Escambia, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties, as well as a portion of Walton County, are included in the district, representing the western panhandle of Florida.
The poll indicates that 36% of people in Northwest Florida strongly disapprove of Gaetz, while 12.5% say they “somewhat disapprove.” Merely 20.9 percent gave their approval.
Kevin Wagner, a political science professor at FAU and pollster, texted Newsweek, “The poll was not great for the congressman, but it’s early, and these assessments can change,” “Even people that disapprove can still vote for him if they like the other choices less.”
Despite Gaetz’s strong support for Donald Trump in the presidential race, Politico stated in 2021 that Gaetz had a “huge” influence on DeSantis in 2018 and his subsequent reelection campaigns.
Ron DeSantis was a political outsider in Florida before winning the governorship in 2018. Gaetz, using his connections to Florida donors, assisted in establishing DeSantis as a household brand with bigger goals that he is currently working towards.
Speaking to host of Fox Business Maria Bartiromo, McCarthy recently warned that Speaker Johnson will face the same opposition from extreme conservatives in the House as he did.
McCarthy claimed that Gaetz’s public policy disagreements with his fellow Republicans are only half the problem, pointing out that Gaetz’s alleged sex scandal has placed him in a controversial ethical position similar to that of troubled New York Congressman George Santos.
Gaetz was not charged with sex trafficking earlier this year by the Department of Justice, which was investigating a federal case involving the alleged online recruitment of women for sex, including a 17-year-old girl who received the payment for her travel expenses. Gaetz refuted every accusation.
Recently, he said that if Johnson cannot approve a single-subject spending package in time to prevent a government shutdown, he might suffer a “similar fate” to that of Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy said to Bartiromo, “Unfortunately, we have a number of members doing the exact same thing they did before, stopping bills from moving forward,” as reported by Florida Politics. “We’re going to have to come together.”
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