The battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and entertainment giant Disney has taken an unexpected turn, as DeSantis finds his favorability plummeting while Disney’s popularity soars. This unlikely clash began when Disney publicly criticized DeSantis’ controversial “Don’t Say Gay Bill” in 2022, which prompted a fierce feud between the two forces.
DeSantis’s favorability rating has experienced a significant decline since November, with nearly half of Americans now viewing him unfavorably, according to a recent survey conducted by Navigator. In contrast, Disney’s favorability remains high, with nearly two-thirds of Americans expressing a positive view of the media powerhouse. It seems that the majority of people, regardless of ethnic background, have sided with Disney in what they perceive as a righteous battle against the Florida governor’s policies.
Adding insult to injury, DeSantis has seen his favorability among Republicans drop by 19 points since November, as even one in five members of his own party side with Disney. The company’s widespread support has dealt a blow to the governor’s political standing, particularly as he gears up for a potential presidential candidacy in the upcoming 2024 elections.
In a retaliatory move against Disney’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” DeSantis took aim at the company’s stronghold, the land where Disney World resides in Orlando, Florida. He sought to strip Disney of certain privileges and tax breaks protected by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a self-governing authority established for the company over half a century ago.
However, Disney skillfully maneuvered through legal channels, thwarting DeSantis’ efforts. The governor’s establishment of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District as a replacement for the Reedy Creek board turned out to be ineffective, as it was revealed that the previous board had signed a deal with Disney in February that curtailed the new board’s authority, essentially allowing Disney to maintain its self-governance.
DeSantis’s struggle against Disney took another blow when the company recently announced the withdrawal of its proposed plan to build a $1 billion corporate campus in central Florida. This decision, attributed to “considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project,” dealt a blow to the potential creation of 2,000 jobs in the state.
In response to Disney’s actions, DeSantis now faces a lawsuit filed by the company, which accuses him of attempting to punish them for their opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, claiming that it violates their First Amendment rights. In a countermove, DeSantis filed a motion to have Chief Judge Mark Walker, presiding over the case, replaced due to perceived impartiality.
Undeterred by these setbacks, DeSantis remains resolute in his battle against Disney, vowing not to back down. During a recent visit to New Hampshire, he declared, “They’re not going to govern themselves. We the people are going to govern.” Emphasizing his commitment to upholding the law and resisting any notion of favoring one corporation, DeSantis made it clear that he would not waver in his stance.
As the feud between DeSantis and Disney rages on, the governor finds himself increasingly at odds with public opinion, while the media giant continues to enjoy widespread support. The clash between these two titans has captivated the nation, leaving many eagerly watching to see how this high-stakes battle unfolds and whether DeSantis can regain lost ground in the face of Disney’s overwhelming popularity.