Florida Governor Rick Scott just got his best job approval rating so far, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. Florida voters are divided 43% to 44% in their job approval for Scott, his highest approval rating since he was elected and up from a negative 36% to 49% in March.
"It is an indication of how far down Florida Gov. Rick Scott's numbers have been that he can take some solace from a poll that finds him losing by 10 points to his predecessor in the governor's office," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "In addition to cutting the deficit between himself and former Gov. Charlie Crist, Gov. Scott sees his tepid job approval and favorability numbers and his still-negative reelection numbers as notably improved."
"Now that doesn't mean that happy days are here again for the governor, but if he is going to make a comeback these are the kind of steps that would be required. Whether it is the start of something larger, we'll see in the coming months," Brown added.
2014 Florida Governor Election
Scott has narrowed the gap between himself and Crist 47% to 37% in his 2014 reelection bid, compared to his 16-point deficit in March. Crist, the Republican-turned independent-turned Democrat, was up 50% to 34% in March.
In a possible matchup between Scott and Crist, the governor carries Republicans 75 - 13 percent, but loses Democrats 83 - 8 percent and independent voters 45 - 33 percent. Men are tied 43 - 43 percent, while women back Crist 51 - 32 percent. Voters still say 50% to 35% that Scott does not deserve to be reelected, but that also is his best score so far on that question.
"For Scott to win, he will have to do better among Republicans than Crist does among Democrats; carry independent voters and drastically reduce his deficit among women. That's a tall order, but there are 17 months until the election," Brown said.
Crist's change in party affiliation is positive evidence of political pragmatism, 47% of voters say. Another 44% of voters say this is negative evidence that Crist lacks core beliefs. In March, 50% of voters said Crist's party switching was a good thing, compared to 40% who saw it as a bad thing.
One reason that Scott may be edging up in the voters' eyes is that by 33% to 18%, voters say the state's economy is getting better, compared to 31% to 21% who felt that way in March. Among those who see an improving, 65% give at least a little credit to President Barack Obama, while 82% credit Scott.
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"The governor needs to make voters believe he is responsible for a better economy. That's the key to his electoral future. He isn't going to get re-elected because he is Mr. Personality. He needs to essentially convince voters, 'You may not like me, but I'm the guy who is making things better,'" Brown said.
Other Possible 2014 Florida Gubenatorial Candidates:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who some Democrats are pushing to run for governor, tops Scott 48 - 38 percent, running as well as Crist. The incumbent would defeat former state Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich 42 - 36 percent.
Sen. Nelson has a 41 - 23 percent favorability rating and a 51 - 29 percent job approval, while 84 percent of voters haven't heard enough about Ms. Rich to form an opinion of her.