Is DeSantis Winning the Public Relations Battle Against Disney?

AP Photo/Ron Johnson

The fight between Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and The Walt Disney Corporation (TWDC) has been going on for over a year, but the skirmish has intensified in recent weeks with the Florida legislature’s dismantling of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and setting up a new district under state supervision — all done with DeSantis’ full support.


TWDC has filed a suit against DeSantis, even as the state’s new Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board continues to shed light on how Disney took advantage of its quasi-governmental authority. But is the whole controversy putting DeSantis in a bad light, or can he benefit from it?

The short answer to that question is: it depends on who you ask.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll provides some interesting insight into what voters think about the DeSantis vs. Disney donnybrook. On the surface, the results look like a bad news/good news mix for the governor.

“Following recent arguments between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, seven in ten Americans (73%) say they are aware of Disney objecting to recent Florida laws banning the discussion of sexuality and gender in public schools, while nearly four in five (78%) say they are aware of recent efforts to revoke some of Walt Disney World’s legal privileges in Florida,” reports Ipsos. “Despite such high awareness of these events, a plurality (47%) of Americans say they do not know who is winning the fight.”


On the whole, voters view the state’s actions and DeSantis punishing Disney for exercising its free speech rights, with 64% agreeing to that statement and 36% saying that Florida is “rightfully rolling back special treatment for Disney.”


Related: You Won’t Believe How Disney Took Advantage of Its Self-Governing Status

Democrats overwhelmingly see the state’s actions as a punishment for TWDC making unequivocal statements against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, with 87% of Democrats saying that DeSantis is targeting Florida as a result. Two-thirds of independents agree.

But GOP voters see the issue differently, with 64% of those surveyed agreeing that DeSantis is right in undoing the special treatment Disney has received for over five decades and only 36% insisting that the state is punishing Disney.

And that’s where things get interesting. While roughly half of voters say that their opinion of Walt Disney World hasn’t changed after the fight and 42% say their view of TWDC isn’t any different (this author is one person who still loves Walt Disney World even as the company disappoints), there’s a change in the perception of DeSantis.

Naturally, Democrats see the governor in a less favorable light as the fight with Disney rages on and 42% of those surveyed overall have a lesser opinion of him, it’s a different story among Republicans.

“Forty-four percent of Republican respondents in the two-day poll ended Tuesday said they had a more favorable view of DeSantis because of the fight with Disney, which led him to sign a retaliatory law in February that aims to strip the company of its self-governing authority at its Orlando-area parks,” Reuters reports. Additionally, over half of those surveyed are more aware of DeSantis as a result of the ongoing issue.


These numbers suggest that the battle with TWDC could serve to boost his profile and drive more voters this way should he choose to run for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. (C’mon, who are we kidding? Does anybody think he’s not running?)

Reuters suggests that “it was unclear whether the conflict would help DeSantis gain support among the wider electorate should he formally enter and win the 2024 Republican presidential primary, becoming the party’s challenger to Democratic President Joe Biden.”

But that’s another battle, and we’ve seen that Ron DeSantis isn’t afraid to jump into a fight.

Regardless of who emerges triumphant from the GOP nomination process, it’s abundantly clear that we can’t have another four years of a Joe Biden (or, heaven forbid, a Kamala Harris) presidency.

Biden and the Democrats have destroyed our economy, spit in the face of time-honored American and Judeo-Christian values, made America a pariah in the eyes of our allies, and destroyed our energy independence.

We must stop Joe Biden in 2024.

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