Obamacare Baggage Pounding Charlie Crist Poll Numbers, Says Pollster
Around the State
With Charlie Crist's 12-point lead over Florida Gov. Rick Scott whittled down to 2, don't necessarily look at recent poll numbers as a victory for Scott. Look at them as a growing problem for Crist, victimized by national trends, but especially President Barack Obama's unpopular and ineffective health-care baggage.
One of the most prominent pollsters in the nation claims it's premature to look at Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling (PPP) figures of last week and think they predict November. Right now voters' strong dislike of Obama's job performance and his signature health care law could pose future problems for Democratic candidates in Florida.
Sunshine State News spoke with Jim Lee, the president of Voter Survey Service (VSS), about the PPP poll on Thursday. The veteran pollster said Scott’s gains on Crist since a PPP poll taken at the end of September mirror national trends.
“This has very little to do with what Rick Scott has done to personally move the needle,” Lee said. “There’s been that shift in the national environment that’s helped Republicans and that’s helped Scott.”
Lee pointed to generic congressional polls taken at the end of September and early October which showed Democrats beating Republicans. He also cited current generic congressional polls showing it much closer. Lee said a number of factors, including the botched roll-out of Obama’s federal health-care law, helped close the gap for Republicans.
The PPP poll shows Obama in bad shape in Florida and taking Crist and other Democrats down with him. Floridians continue to oppose his health-care law. According to the poll, almost a majority -- 48 percent -- of those surveyed disapprove of Obama, while 44 percent approve of him. While 40 percent approve of Obama’s federal health-care law, 49 percent disapprove of it.
The poll finds Floridians think the roll-out of the health care law was handled poorly, with 42 percent saying it was very unsuccessful and 20 percent thinking it was somewhat unsuccessful. Only 6 percent think the implementation was very successful and 29 percent say it was somewhat successful.
Noting the economy was improving across the nation and in Florida, Lee said that also helped Scott. “Incumbents in general will benefit from that, particularly governors -- which is like a CEO position,” Lee said.
PPP’s polls show Crist’s numbers dropping. Crist was above water in the September PPP poll with 43 percent seeing him as favorable and 42 percent as unfavorable, but the new one finds him upside down with 46 percent seeing him as unfavorable and 36 percent as favorable.
Despite being a Republican for most of his career, Crist is still the favorite for the Democratic nomination, according to the PPP poll. Nevertheless, Crist’s numbers have unmistakably slipped with Democratic primary voters, going from 62 percent favorable and 23 percent unfavorable in September to now 51 percent favorable and 27 percent unfavorable.
“There’s no smoking gun here,” Lee insisted, though he added it was possible that liberals could have doubts about nominating a former Republican who campaigned not that long ago as a conservative.
With little in the way of television attack ads so far, Lee said Crist could well see his numbers move in either direction. “Can they get better? Absolutely,” Lee said. “Can they get worse? Sure.”
Lee said the gubernatorial race will remain in flux for the time being. Saying anything more than that is conjecture, Lee said.
The PPP poll of 591 Florida voters was taken from Jan. 16-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The PPP 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.