DeSantis’ landslide reelection provokes relief, worries from students

Polarizing opinions on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies led to divided student reelection reactions. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/UNSPLASH

Some students remain divided over the results of the midterm election, with some displeased and others content, particularly over the landslide reelection of Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

As a person of color and a religious minority, senior psychology major Hanna Khan was disappointed to learn that DeSantis won Tuesday’s election. Khan said she no longer feels welcome in Florida with him still leading the state.

DeSantis’ policies make her afraid for women’s future, she said. The governor’s abortion law, House Bill 5, also known as the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act, bans all abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, according to the Florida Government website

Not only did DeSantis win another four years as governor, but he also won by the largest margin in 40 years, according to Tuesday’s NPR article

An estimated 7.7 million voters cast their ballot in yesterday’s election, according to Fox 13 Tampa Bay, representing half of the total registered voters. With a 19.6% difference, 4.61 million votes were cast for DeSantis and 3.1 million for former Gov. Charlie Crist. 

Kyle Oliver, economics and quantitative econometrics junior, wasn’t surprised by the incumbent’s landslide victory because of his response to the pandemic and Hurricane Ian. He said DeSantis’ ability to build back after the pandemic was one of the reasons he voted for him. 

Although the storm devastated parts of the state, Oliver said the governor was clearly prepared for the disaster. 

“I liked how he handled everything with COVID-19 [and] pretty much everything building up after that,” Oliver said. “Then how he just did pretty well for the hurricane. He kind of got a little shit for it because the hurricane didn’t go the way people thought.”

DeSantis’ efforts consisted of programs to assist with debris removal, temporary housing and mental health resources for those affected, according to the Florida Government website. President Joe Biden called his planning “remarkable” and said the leadership displayed “extraordinary cooperation,” according to an October Wesh article.

Though he expected the results, senior health science major Jordan Williams believes a DeSantis reelection means another four years of ignoring minority communities. As a Black student, Williams said the governor’s censorship of critical race theory is an attack on history. 

“Of course I’m not happy. [DeSantis] is doing nothing, especially for the minorities,” Williams said. “One of his policies [Individual Freedom] was trying to stop the African American Studies [critical race theory] … that was crazy to me.”

The “Individual Freedom” policy, signed into law by DeSantis, banned educators in the state from teaching critical race theory in school, according to WPTV. DeSantis said the bill protects students from “indoctrination.” Critics judged his policy, claiming it would limit education on race in schools.

Sophomore finance major Dylan Harmon was happy about the results of the election, but he didn’t vote because he said he didn’t know much about it. Still, Harmon believes DeSantis’ COVID-19 policies and ability to lead the state through tough times makes him the right choice. 

“I do want to [vote], it’s just I don’t know much about voting,” Harmon said. “I was told I had to go back to my clubhouse in my neighborhood to vote. I didn’t know where [I could vote here]. I didn’t know if I was allowed to vote here or not.”

DeSantis began lifting COVID-19-era policies in September 2020 by removing restrictions on businesses statewide, according to NPR. The governor’s policies also eased mask restrictions, suspending fines and penalties for not wearing a mask. 

In 2022, DeSantis announced new guidance, “Buck the CDC,” that discouraged mask-wearing, reduced isolation periods and encouraged doctors to use off-label medications to treat COVID-19, according to the Associated Press

Matthew Mormino, an out-of-state junior environmental engineering major, disagreed with the lax policies. Disappointed with the results, Mormino said the governor’s leadership showed that he didn’t see public health as a priority.

“I’m relatively disappointed,” he said. “I just didn’t really like his take during the peak of COVID. [DeSantis was] very anti-mask, anti-vaccine and anti-regulation. I think the public needed to stay healthy.”

The governor continues to do good things for Florida, according to Matthew Barbosa, a freshman biomedical science major. Though he didn’t vote because he believes change doesn’t occur through politics, Barbosa said he was happy with the results.

“At least my parents are happy with it. I trust in their vision, their perspective,” Barbosa said. “I gotta be honest with you, I don’t know much about it.”

This midterm experienced a decrease from the 2018 gubernatorial election and the 2020 presidential election, which saw 8.1 million and 10.97 million voters, respectively, according to Politico.

People take their voting rights for granted, according to Khan. Some may feel like their voice has no impact and be discouraged from voting in elections, she said. 

“People don’t take politics as seriously especially if you come from a place of privilege and if the politics don’t necessarily affect you,” Khan said.