Monday, April 03, 2017

Scott within striking distance of Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat after helping Trump win Florida

The Florida GOP is gaining ground in its long-held goal to unseat the last statewide elected Democratic official in the state.

A recent poll by the Saint Leo University showed that Republican Gov. Rick Scott is within the margin of error in a potential 2018 general election challenge against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat.

The poll asked respondents whom they would support if the November 2018 election was being that day and they were presented with a choice between Scott and Nelson for Senate. The results were close, with Nelson’s support at 38.7 percent compared to Scott at 34.3 percent. Nearly 17 percent could not decide, and 10.3 percent said they want someone else.

The responses were gathered online from 507 adults from March 3 to March 11, 2017. The margin of error for responses is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

“Rick Scott starts off as the strong favorite to win the GOP nomination,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, “but it’s important to remember that Charlie Crist was once considered a shoe-in for the Republican nod in 2010.” Crist left a three-way primary contest that seemed unwinnable, and ran unsuccessfully as an independent for the seat ultimately won by Marco Rubio.

The poll also found that a bit more than half of adults in Florida have a favorable opinion of the job performance of Scott. Respondents were asked to indicate whether they view favorably or unfavorably, and at what level of intensity, the work of the governor, who is now in his second four-year term.  It turns out that a combined percentage of 55.8 percent either strongly or somewhat approve of Scott. The combined unfavorable percentage is 39.2. Just under 5 percent were unsure.

“With the Florida economy humming along, it is no surprise that Governor Scott is enjoying solid favorability ratings,” Orlando said.

Scott, who helped now U.S. President Donald Trump win Florida, is the early leader among potential candidates for the Republican nomination in the 2018 U.S. Senate race.

The poll asked Republican respondents to choose from a list of potential U.S. Senate primary candidates for that race, imagining that the primary was being held that day. Scott was the clear leader with 44.6 percent. The next most popular answer was “I don’t know” at 26.3 percent.

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