EXCLUSIVE: Matt Gaetz net approval positive with few voters believing allegations

May 11, 2021
In The News

Rep. Matt Gaetz might be fighting firestorms in the national news and in Congress over a federal investigation into stories about his sexual history, but outrage over the allegations is not landing with voters in his home district, according to a poll commissioned by his campaign.

Poll numbers provided exclusively to the Washington Examiner show that the Florida Republican has a net positive approval rating of 23.5% among registered voters in his district, with 48.3% who approve, 24.8% who disapprove, and 26.8% who are unsure.

When asked, "Do you believe the allegations against Representative Matt Gaetz?" 20% of voters said that they believe the allegations, 35% do not believe the allegations, and 45% are unsure. Notably, nearly 1 in 5 Democrats, 19.2%, in the district said that they did not believe the allegations.

The poll was conducted by Big Data Poll, a firm that has been "banned" from polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight over objections about its accuracy or methodology. It surveyed 447 registered voters in Florida's 1st Congressional District from April 17 to May 2 using a "mixed-mode survey" method. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.6% with 95% confidence.

The poll asked respondents a series of questions that highlighted key points of Gaetz's defensive arguments in wake of the scandal surrounding him before asking if they believed the story.

Asked if they have trust in the media to report the news accurately, 7% said “a great deal,” 17% said “a fair amount,” 31.7% said “not very much,” and 41.2% said “none at all.” The figures were similar when asked about trust in media reports citing unnamed sources: 3.7% had a great deal of trust, 12.6% had a fair amount, 33.6% had not very much, and 45.6% had none at all.

Asked if they were familiar with those reports, 58.1% said yes and 33.9% said no.

The poll then asked about familiarity with a Project Veritas expose showing an undercover video of a CNN technical director talking about running negative stories about Gaetz as “propaganda;” 37.2% were familiar with the video, while 49.7% were not familiar.

"Bottom line, it’s clear voters in Florida’s First Congressional District are sticking with Representative Matt Gaetz in the wake of negative reports they do not trust from sources they distrust even more," Richard Baris, director of Big Data Poll, said in a polling memo. "It’s worth noting that those who are aware of these reports actually give him higher marks. Of those who say they are aware, his approval rating stands at 58.0%."

Gaetz holds a safe Republican seat in the western Florida Panhandle, with the Cook Political Report rating it as R+20 in its partisan voter index.

News broke in March of a federal investigation exploring whether Gaetz had sexual relations with a minor or paid for sex. That investigation grew out of a broader investigation into Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector and Gaetz associate in Seminole County, Florida, who was indicted in 2020 on charges including sex trafficking of a minor and financially supporting people in exchange for sex.

The House Ethics Committee has also opened an investigation to "gather additional information" about the allegations of inappropriate behavior from Gaetz.

Gaetz has repeatedly denied doing anything illegal, and no woman has publicly accused Gaetz of wrongdoing. He has charged that the investigation is tied to a bizarre overture to his father seeking a $25 million loan.

Commissioning a poll measuring his constituents’ attitudes is not the only way Gaetz is defending himself from the allegations in the public sphere.

Gaetz's campaign recently released a six-figure television and digital ad defending himself from the allegations of inappropriate behavior in his district.

On Friday, Gaetz began an "America First" rally tour with fellow House Republican firebrand outsider Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, speaking at The Villages retirement community in Central Florida.