If the 2018 U.S. Senate election were held today, incumbent Bill Nelson would win a hypothetical matchup against Gov. Rick Scott, a new poll shows.
The University of North Florida survey found Nelson routing Scott by six points, leading him 44-38.
Scott has still not declared his candidacy for the race, but the poll indicates the matchup is already shaping up to get closer and closer as 2018 looms.
“Even though it’s very early in the 2018 election season, Nelson’s six-point lead is meaningful,” said UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory faculty director Michael Binder.
The Senate race is bound to be one of the hottest in the country due to Scott's tenure as governor and for his public relationship with President Donald Trump.
“This race is going to get national attention and Rick Scott’s alliance with Donald Trump will likely factor into this election’s outcome next year," said Binder.
Scott's approval rating stands slightly higher than Nelson's, with 46 percent of Floridians approving while 40 percent disapprove.
A smaller number -- 42 percent -- say they approve of the job Nelson is doing, but only 28 percent disapprove.
In just seven years, Scott has risen to one of the strongest figures among Florida Republicans. Once a political unknown, he harnessed his business career and springboarded his fortune into politics.
He has won two consecutive terms as Florida governor, running against some of the biggest names in Florida politics, former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and former Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.
Scott was recently named as Vice Chair of the Republican Governors Association, which he will chair next year.
The governor has marketed his term as governor with a heavy jobs focus, traveling the state to promise jobs to Floridians to get them back to work.
Some have criticized Nelson for maintaining a low profile moving into 2018, but the poll suggests he's still ahead for now.
The poll of 973 registered Florida voters was conducted Feb. 13-26 and has a margin of error of +/-3.14 percent.
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