Florida Gov. Rick Scott is in a better position to be reelected today than he was just three months ago, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday morning. The survey shows him with his highest-ever approval and favorability ratings and making gains on his highest-profile potential opponent -- though Scott remains net-negative on all three measures.
Currently, 40 percent of voters view Scott favorably, his highest favorability rating ever, while 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him, up from 33 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable in Quinnipiac's previous survey, conducted in mid-March. Similarly, 43 percent of voters say they approve of the job Scott is doing, up from 36 percent in March and also his highest-ever score. Roughly as many voters disapprove of Scott, 44 percent, as approve of his job performance. Though Scott remains underwater on on his reelection as well, he shows slight, yet steady improvement there, with the percentage who feel he deserves to be reelected climbing to 35 percent, compared to half who don't feel that way.
Scott has made several tacks to the center since the March survey, including signing legislation that expanding early voting hours and locations after the state's Election Day debacle last year. He has also crisscrossed the state, making stops in major media markets to tout initiatives he successfully pushed through the legislature this session, like a pay raise for teachers. His biggest move to the left came prior to the March survey, however, when he angered many Republicans in accepting an expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.
Scott continues to trail former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in a general election match-up, but has made gains since March. Scott now trails Crist, 47 percent to 37 percent, a slight improvement for the incumbent from his 16-point deficit in March. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who has repeatedly said that he is not interested in a bid against Scott but hasn't explicitly ruled it out either, also holds a 10-point advantage over Scott, 48 percent to 38 percent.
Crist is actually slightly more popular among Democrats than Nelson is, according to the survey. Fully 67 percent of Democratic registered voters say they have a favorable opinion of Crist, while 59 percent say they have a favorable opinion of Nelson. But 34 percent of Democrats said they didn't know enough about Nelson, whom exit polls show won 92 percent of the Democratic vote in his successful reelection bid last October, to have an opinion, while only 18 percent said they didn't know enough about Crist.
Quinnipiac did not test former state CFO Alex Sink, the party's 2010 nominee, despite including her in their March survey. Sink's husband, Bill McBride, a former gubernatorial nominee himself, passed away in December, leading some to question whether she would enter the 2014 race. But Sink has attended a number of Democratic events in recent months, and sources have told Hotline On Call that she is still giving serious thought to challenging Scott again. Sink told reporters at the party's annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner last weekend that her husband had wanted her to run again, but that she is unsure whether she wants to do it without him by her side.
Meanwhile, former state Sen. Nan Rich, whose progressive, year-long campaign for the Democratic nomination has yet to gain much traction, trails Scott, 42 percent to 36 percent. As expected, Rich is still unknown statewide: 84 percent of voters said they didn't know enough about her to have an opinion, in spite of the recent attention she has gotten. News broke late last month that the state party would prevent Rich, its only declared gubernatorial candidate, from speaking at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner. The uproar, fanned by Republicans eager to slam the Democratic Party and push a lower-tier candidate to center-stage, has been covered in the state's major papers on a near-daily basis since.
The Quinnipiac poll of 1,176 registered voters was conducted between June 11-16 and carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.9 percentage points.
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