Here Comes Rick Scott, Closing the Gap on Charlie Crist

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: January 22, 2014 3:40 PM
Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Gov. Rick Scott has come back strongly against former Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a poll released on Wednesday -- and he's done it in dramatic fashion, considering the poll leans in Crist's favor.

The poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, finds Crist, who is running for the Democratic nomination, taking 43 percent while Scott is right on his heels with 41 percent. The poll finds Scott does much better against former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, beating her 40 percent to 34 percent. The poll does lean in Crist's favor, as voters who backed President Barack Obama in 2012 make up 51 percent of the sampled population while only 44 percent backed Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. Obama beat Romney by almost 1 percent in Florida. 

PPP finds all three of the candidates are upside down. A majority of those surveyed -- 51 percent -- disapprove of Scott while 34 percent approve of him. Crist is seen as unfavorable by 46 percent while 36 percent approve of him. Rich is seen as favorable by only 9 percent while 21 percent see her as unfavorable and 70 percent are not sure about her.

The new poll represents a major change from a PPP poll taken at the end of September. That poll found Crist beating Scott 50 percent to 38 percent and showed the Republican narrowly edging Rich: 37 percent to 36 percent. Scott’s numbers are largely unchanged from September when they stood at 55 percent disapproving and 33 percent approving. The same holds true for Rich who was seen as unfavorable by 23 percent and favorable by 8 percent. However, Crist was above water in September with 43 percent seeing him as favorable and 42 percent as unfavorable.

Dean Debnam, the president of PPP, pointed toward gains Scott made with Republicans in the past few months. In the current poll, Scott takes 80 pecent of Republicans against Crist as opposed to 65 percent back in the September poll.

“Republican votes have really rallied around Rick Scott over the last three months,” said Debnam. “His consolidating support from the party base explains most of his gains relative to Charlie Crist since the last time we polled.”

Scott also nipped into Crist’s lead among Democrats, narrowing the former governor’s 55 percent advantage in September to 46 percent. Scott’s gains among independents was less noticeable as Crist’s 26 percent lead with those voters in September dropped to 24 percent in the new poll.

Despite joining the Democrats at the end of 2012 after spending most of his political career as a Republican, Crist holds a strong lead in the primary, taking 58 percent of likely primary voters while Rich garners the support of 16 percent. PPP released a poll taken at the end of September which showed similar numbers with Crist at 59 percent and Rich at 16 percent.

But the new poll does show signs of Crist slipping. In the September poll, 62 percent of Democratic primary voters saw Crist in a favorable light and 23 percent saw him as unfavorable. Now 51 percent of Democratic primary voters see Crist as favorable and 27 percent see him as unfavorable. Rich has made little progress at Crist’s expense as currently 13 percent of primary voters see her as favorable, the same as it was in September, and 18 percent see her as unfavorable, down slightly from 23 percent in the earlier poll.

The poll of 591 Florida voters was taken from Jan. 16-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The poll of 243 likely Democratic primary voters was taken from Jan. 16-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 6.3 percent.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (7)

10:35AM JAN 23RD 2014
With Scott & Bondi doing little to nothing about Florida being the pill mill state yet fighting against the People being allowed to vote on medical marijuana. We will not be voting for Scott or Bondi this election. When you do everything possible to not allow the People to vote, you then have no right to expect the People to vote for you.
2:11PM JAN 23RD 2014
Witchdoctor call BS on claim to be "independent". The fact you mention both Bondi and Scott says "(D) lackey".
10:26AM JAN 25TH 2014
The fact you continue to use "Witchdoctor" says demonizing Aryan racist . . .

Pathetic . . .
10:39AM JAN 23RD 2014
P.S. Both my wife and myself are Florida registered Independent voters, with conservative values. Ouch that hurts the GOP. Let the People decide.
Bob Sell
9:05PM JAN 22ND 2014
I consider myself a constitutional conservative and voted for Rick Scott last time. With his veto of alimony reform and shared parenting, I now see that Governor Scott is a right wing ideologue who governs based on his own personal biases. Rest assured, I won't be voting for Mr. Scott a 2nd time. If he is the face of conservatism in Florida, please count me out.
Brian Maday
5:44PM JAN 22ND 2014
Mr. Crist was a fine governor during his service, but not really 'remarkable' as Florida was 'stable' during his service.

Mr Scott developed a concrete, detailed, and cohesive plan long before voters chose him as Governor. Regardless of political affiliation, Scott has been able to follow him plan far more closely than I thought possible, adjusting as necessary as time went by. I feel he has been an EXCELLENT Governor - He simply did what he said he was going to do, which has resulted in Florida's status being one of the top states in handling in spite of Federal Guidelines that could have resulted in the problems faced in further problems by, (my guess) 90% of the other 49 states.

I sincerely hope that he is re-elected for a second term. Crist would be 'overwhelmed' should he get elected.
9:22PM JAN 23RD 2014
I hope that the GOP doesn't abandon Gov. Scott like they did here in Virginia. Crazy Terry McAwful out spent Ken Cuccinelli by nearly $15M, yet only won by about 56,500 votes. Had the GOP actually supported the Republican candidate, the election would probably have gone a very different way.

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