Fact-checking Trump’s claims that Florida is badly run under DeSantis

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Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. AP

Fact-checking Trump’s claims that Florida is badly run under DeSantis

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Former President Donald Trump’s latest volley at Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) involved attacks on the performance of the state both men call home.

In a rant Trump posted to social media, the 2024 presidential contender claimed Florida gets low marks for its schools, public health record, and law enforcement efforts.


But most of Trump’s claims don’t reflect reality. Here are the facts about what he said.

‘For Covid Death Rates Per State, Ron, as Governor of Florida, did worse than New York’

Florida did not have a particularly high death rate during the pandemic — a feat made more impressive because it has one of the highest concentrations of elderly residents in the country, and coronavirus deaths disproportionately occurred among the elderly.

Florida ranked 17th in terms of deaths per 100,000 residents, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

New York, by that same metric, had more deaths per 100,000, coming in as the eighth worst state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists data for coronavirus death rates by individual years, and in 2021 alone, New York’s death rate per 100,000 residents was indeed lower than Florida’s. That may be where Trump got his claim that New York outperformed Florida in stopping deaths.

But the data show Florida’s death rate in 2020, when the contrast between DeSantis’s reopening strategy and then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s strategy was the starkest, was far lower than New York’s.

And if you look at the total number of deaths for all three years of the pandemic, Florida’s death rate is well below New York’s.

‘In Education, Florida ranks among the worst in the Country’

Florida actually has one of the best education systems in the country.

According to US News & World Report, Florida ranks third in the United States for its education system overall.

It is the highest-rated state in the country, according to those rankings, in higher education.

Florida was ranked the second-best state for education by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Report Card on American Education.

Florida received an “A” grade both for its digital learning offerings and its academic standards.

‘On crime statistics, Florida ranked Third Worst in Murder, Third Worst in Rape, and Third Worst in Aggravated Assault’

Florida does not have the third-highest murder rate in the U.S.

According to the CDC’s most recent data, Florida has the 20th highest murder rate.

Florida also does not have the highest rate of rapes.

While a Statista data analysis taken from 2020 FBI statistics shows that Florida has the third-highest raw number of rapes, and Trump may have based his claim off that list, the number is misleading because Florida’s population is so high.

Texas led that list in the total number of rapes, followed by California and Florida, but none of those states lead in rapes per capita; they just have more people.

When looking at rapes per 100,000 residents, Florida is the 35th worst, making it safer from rape than most other states.

Trump appears to have made the same mistake in citing the aggravated assault statistics.

A Statista data analysis shows Florida with the third-highest raw number of aggravated assaults, again trailing California and Texas due to the large population sizes of all three states.

But when the data are organized by the number of assaults relative to the population, Florida falls dramatically in the rankings, with only the 24th highest rate of assaults.

‘For 2022, Jacksonville was rated as one of the Top 25 Major Crime Cities in the Country, with Tampa and Orlando not doing much better’

Trump appeared to be referring to an analysis by AH Datalytics from the first six months of 2022, which ranked Jacksonville 23rd on a list of bigger cities’ murders per 100,000 residents.

That list came out in June 2022.

But according to the same firm’s analysis, by the end of last year, Jacksonville came in as the 27th worst city for murders per 100,000 residents, not in the top 25.

No city or town in Florida cracked the most recent list of the top 25 “most dangerous places” compiled by US News & World Report.

Tampa recently touted data that showed it had the second-lowest violent crime rate of similarly sized cities throughout the U.S.

And the most recent US News & World Report data show Orlando has a lower-than-average crime rate.

‘On Education, Florida ranks #39 on Health and Safety in the Country’

It is not entirely clear what Trump meant by the health and safety of education; most ranking systems don’t separate that as a metric when they analyze the quality of schools.

One analysis from Scholaroo, a higher education resource, ranked Florida the 32nd worst state for “school safety” — still better than what Trump claimed.

And as already established, Florida’s school system ranks highly by most other measures.

‘#50 in Affordability’

Florida is not the least affordable state in the union.

Its overall affordability ranks 31st out of the 50 states, and its cost of living is the 25th highest, according to US News & World Report.

A recent Buzzfeed ranking of states’ affordability based on an analysis of housing costs and each state’s minimum wage rated Florida the 28th most affordable state — far from the bottom of the pack, as Trump claimed.

‘#30 in Education & Childcare’

Florida’s child care quality, affordability, and availability rank in the top half of states, according to an analysis from Care.com, a child are location website.


Florida comes in as the 19th-best state overall for child care, with its child care quality coming in as the 18th best and its availability coming in as the 15th best.

The same analysis, however, ranked Florida the 30th state only in terms of childcare cost, meaning the high quality and widely available child care is more expensive than slightly more than half of states.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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