Yahoo News and YouGov conducted a joint poll of 1,584 U.S. adults from May 5 to 8 regarding the feud between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company.
Disney vs. DeSantis Poll
Yahoo News and YouGov asked adults the following: “Last year, Disney publicly criticized a Florida law that bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. Do you think Disney’s actions here were appropriate or inappropriate?”
39% of adults overall voted that Disney’s actions were appropriate, while 42% voted that they were inappropriate. 19% voted “not sure.”
Split up by political party, 66% of Democrats thought Disney’s actions were appropriate while 73% of Republicans thought they were inappropriate.
The survey then asked the following: “In response to Disney’s criticism, DeSantis tried to abolish the special tax district that has enabled Disney World to essentially function as its own county government since 1967, then took control of the board overseeing the district. Do you think DeSantis’s actions here were appropriate or inappropriate?”
The numbers here were very similar to the previous poll. 38% of adults overall voted that DeSantis’ actions were appropriate while 40% thought they were inappropriate and 22% were unsure.
67% of Democrats thought DeSantis behaved inappropriately, while the same percentage of Republicans thought he behaved appropriately.
Yahoo News and YouGov also asked if the court should ultimately rule in favor of Disney or DeSantis. A majority 42% favored Disney, while 32% favored DeSantis.
When it comes to independents, who are the dividing line when it comes to DeSantis’ presidential bid, 38% think the court should side with Disney, and 32% side with DeSantis.
However, only 34% of the 1,584 polled adults say they’ve heard “a lot” about the feud. Those who have heard the most information are more likely to be viewers of MSNBC (62%) than Fox News (29%) or CNN (31%). So those polled are already less likely to be DeSantis voters to begin with.
64% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now view Disney unfavorably. 27% view the company favorably. 71% say Disney is “too political” and 77% say the company is more liberal than conservative.
The survey also covered various ongoing issues in the country today, finding that most Americans view “wokeness” — a frequent talking point of DeSantis — as the least important problem.
Disney Suing DeSantis & CFTOD Board
In their lawsuit against Governor DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board, Disney Parks & Resorts cites “a targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech.” The plaintiff further argues that this chronology of events “threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
Among other grievances, the Governor’s threat of new tolls and taxes, and the Board’s decision to void the company’s final agreement with the Reedy Creek Improvement District Board were included in the document.
They name Governor DeSantis, the CFTOD Board of Supervisors members, and now former District administrator John Classe. Glen Gilzean, Jr. is the new District administrator.
Disney is suing for “declaratory and injunctive relief.” Injunctive relief forces a party to act in a certain way or prevents them from doing various things.
Disney regrets that it has come to this, but having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.
The federal judge originally attached to the lawsuit recused himself.
CFTOD Board Suing Disney
The CFTOD Board of Supervisors voted to file their own countersuit against Disney. While Disney’s lawsuit is through federal court, the Board’s lawsuit is through state court.
In their 188-page complaint, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District named itself as the plaintiff and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US Inc. as the defendant. Through nearly 200 pages of legalese, the district asks the state court to render Disney’s development agreement with the Reedy Creek Improvement District as unenforceable, null, and void. They also ask the same to be done of the restrictive covenants, which notably set the benchmark for expiry at 21 years after the death of the last living descendant of King Charles III, living as of the date of the document.
The CFTOB additionally asks that all agreements cannot be enforced on Disney’s end either. Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans and typically acts to rubber stamp Gov. DeSantis’ agenda, is working to pass a law that invalidates Disney’s agreement with Reedy Creek. Governor DeSantis said it was well within his power to do so.
Origins of the Feud
The Florida Governor and Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer at the time and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from cast members and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.
In an apparent act of retribution over Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of Reedy Creek and the eventual transfer of power directly under his control. DeSantis argues he is attacking a rather vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” invading the state. He further says he aims to put the people of Florida first through his actions:
Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.
The Governor insists he will double down on efforts to punish the resort through methods both in the Legislature and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board. Notably, he promised to hike hotel taxes and institute tolls on the roads around Walt Disney World Resort property. He also threatened to build a prison on Walt Disney World land and signed a bill into law requiring state inspections of Monorails.
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