Jan 12, 2023 - Politics

Focus groups: Florida swing voters confused by "woke"

Photo illustration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with lines radiating from him.

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When Gov. Ron DeSantis says things like, "We reject this woke ideology," and, "Florida is where woke goes to die," at least one important group of voters is left scratching their heads.

What's happening: Some Florida swing voters are confused about what DeSantis means when he uses the adjective "woke," according to two Axios Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups.

  • "It's an extreme of some kind?" guessed Katie, 42, an unemployed registered Republican in Bradenton.
  • "I'm sorry, I don't know what woke means," said Rosario, 37, a registered Democrat in St. Cloud who works two jobs and would vote for former President Trump in 2024.

Driving the news: Engagious/Schlesinger conducted two online focus groups on Tuesday with 13 Floridians who voted for Trump in 2016 then President Biden in 2020.

  • Six are registered as Democrats, four as Republicans, and three as independents.

Of note: While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters are thinking and talking about current events.

Quick take: "When Gov. DeSantis declares, 'Florida is where woke goes to die,' many of these swing voters have no clue what ideology he's trying to bury," said Rich Thau, president of Engagious, who moderated the focus groups.

Meanwhile, when the groups were shown a clip from DeSantis' inauguration speech in which he vowed never to "surrender to the woke mob," few swing voters felt the same way.

  • "I understand he's pandering to his base, but it's just a little bit too much," said Jason, 51, a registered Democrat from Palm Beach County who voted for DeSantis in 2022.

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