Washington, DC, April 26, 2023– In the wake of disagreements between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about discussions of gender and sexuality in public schools, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that the majority of Americans believe that DeSantis is punishing Disney for exercising its right to free speech. While most are aware of DeSantis’ recent efforts to revoke some of Walt Disney World’s legal privileges and Disney’s objection to recent Florida laws banning the discussion of gender and sexuality in public schools, nearly half of Americans say they do not know who is winning the fight. In response to the fight, though, about two in five Americans say they now have a less favorable opinion of DeSantis, while half say the fight has had no impact on their perceptions of Disney. However, reactions largely differ along party lines, as Democrats and independents generally side with Disney while Republicans largely side with DeSantis.
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. Despite such high awareness of these events, a plurality (47%) of Americans say they do not know who is winning the fight. Regardless, 64% of Americans say they believe DeSantis is punishing Disney for exercising their right to free speech, while only 36% say they believe he is rightfully rolling back special treatment for Disney. Opinions are largely divided along party lines, where 87% of Democrats and 67% of independents say DeSantis is punishing Disney while 64% of Republicans say DeSantis is rightfully rolling back Disney’s special privileges.
In response to this debate, Americans’ opinions of Disney are largely unchanged, but partisan divisions continue to emerge. About half (49%) say their opinion of the Walt Disney World resort is not impacted by the issue, and a plurality (42%) say the same for their opinion of the Disney Company. Most independents agree with Americans at-large: 60% say the fight has had no impact of their view of the Walt Disney World resort and half say it has had no impact of their view of the Disney Company. Among Democrats, though, Disney fares especially well in the fight against DeSantis. Since Disney voiced opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill in 2022, 55% of Democrats say they see the Disney Company more favorably. Unsurprisingly, nearly half of Republicans say they view the Walt Disney World resort and the Disney Company less favorably now. Yet, about four in ten Republicans say their views of each have not been impacted by recent events.
In contrast to Disney, opinions of DeSantis have fallen as a result of their fight over LGBTQ+ issues in Florida. Two in five (42%) Americans say they see DeSantis less favorably now, while only 36% say recent events have had no impact on their opinion. This effect is most pronounced among Democrats, although the impacts on independents and Republicans are also notable. Seven in ten (68%) Democrats say they see DeSantis less favorably following recent events, and 34% of independents say the same. Although 44% of Republicans say they view DeSantis more favorably following the fight around LGBTQ+ issues in Florida, a fifth (19%) say they view him less favorably.
About the Study
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 24-25, 2023, on behalf of Thomson Reuters. For this survey, a sample of 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 450 Democrats, 366 Republicans, and 116 independents.
The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2022 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,005, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.3 percentage points).
The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points for Democrats, plus or minus 6.3 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 11.1 percentage points for independents.
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