TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Recent polling shows Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval rating falling over his handling of the pandemic, but Republicans welcome a fight over more COVID-19 restrictions.

A new poll released Thursday by the Committee to Protect Health Care, a group launched in 2016 to oppose President Trump’s promises to eliminate Obamacare, shows the governor’s approval rating at -7 among likely Florida voters when asked about his handling of the pandemic (45% approval, 52% disapproval).

While this polling was done by progressive group Data for Progress, three other polls in the past month show at least 60% support among Floridians for mask mandates in schools.

“Floridians are rightly concerned that the governor is needlessly putting children’s lives at risk, even after parents and medical professionals have begged him to allow masking in schools,” said Dr. Mona Mangat, an immunologist in St. Petersburg and a member of the CPHC. “We’ve lost so many children and adults in our state already.”

Data from the CDC show deaths and hospitalizations have been dropping over the past month. Though there is a lag in reporting of deaths, case numbers have also been dropping, and public health experts say there are signs the latest wave from the COVID-19 Delta variant is abating.

These poll results and the failed recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom in California have buoyed some Democrats, who say their focus on pandemic restrictions is the right move for public health and politics.

“Look, I was recalled in no small part due to my approach to this pandemic,” Newsom said in an interview with CBS News. “So what I’m saying here is, be affirmative. Don’t be timid. Lean in. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about the formal authority of setting the tone and tenor on vaccines and masks, but it’s the moral authority that we have. That we’re on the right side of history and we’re doing the right thing to save people’s lives.”

Florida Republicans say they welcome the fight over more COVID-19 restrictions, because they believe it’s a winning issue for their side.

“I think 2022 is going to be the year of the Mama Bear,” said Christian Ziegler, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. “Moms and parents are waking up, and they’re supporting DeSantis because he’s there fighting for their children and their parental rights. That’s an entire voting bloc that would not get included in these polls because, frankly, a lot of them don’t have voting history because they’re in their 20s and 30s. And they’re going to be showing up to the polls like crazy.”

On the national level, Republican National Committee spokesman Paris Dennard said Floridians will support DeSantis when it comes time to vote in November 2022.

“I think if Gavin Newsom is leaning in on Covid restrictions, he’s totally missed the mark,” Dennard told 8 On Your Side. “I think Floridians are going to look at Gov. DeSantis’ leadership on a whole and say ‘when I look at the totality of what he’s done, it’s been good.”