Rick Scott Pulls Ahead as Charlie Crist Continues to Fall
Around the State
The tide continues to turn in the Florida governor’s race, as a new poll confirms former Gov. Charlie Crist is losing favor with Florida voters.
Gov. Rick Scott has now surpassed Crist, as the former governor continues his downward slide, according to a poll conducted by the most accurate pollster in the 2010 Florida gubernatorial contest.
Scott leads Crist 45 percent to 44 percent, in a new Voter Survey Service poll, commissioned by Sunshine State News. While Scott’s lead is within the margin of error, the poll reveals the Republican holds an important 5 point lead over Crist among Floridians more likely to cast votes in the November election.
“This race, in my opinion, looks very locked in. In other words, it almost looks like a repeat of what we had in the summer of 2010,” said James Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, who described the Scott versus Alex Sink race as a back and forth ping-pong match in polling.
“I almost get the sense we’re headed toward a similar trajectory,” he added.
The VSS poll comes a little more than a week after a St. Leo poll showed Crist’s once-double-digit lead evaporating.
Although the overall VSS numbers show Scott and Crist neck-and-neck, the poll finds voter turnout is on Scott’s side. Scott leads 49-42 over Crist with respondents who say they have an excellent or good chance of voting in the November election -- numbers outside the margin of error.
“The turnout in a year like this very much favors the Republican Party, and that’s a very big difference that cannot be overlooked in the polling,” said Lee, who noted Republicans turned out 6 points to 8 points higher than Democrats in the 2010 election.
“That, to me, is a very important piece of information, because it really does show the enthusiasm gap clearly favors the Republican Party in a nonpresidential year,” said Lee. “It’s very easy for me to make the case that this could be a 3- or 4-point lead for Rick Scott right now, not a 1 point lead.”
According to Lee, the weight of Crist’s support for President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law continues to drag him down. The VSS poll revealed 51 percent of Florida voters would be less likely to cast a ballot for a candidate that supports Obamacare. Only 39 percent of respondents said they would vote for a candidate that supports the law.
“The campaigning that’s happening on the ground ... some of the TV wars have already kicked in,” he told Sunshine State News. “The impact of Obamacare and the linkage of Crist to Obamacare certainly is a very important reason why, in this poll, you see Crist losing ground.”
Scott received 83 percent of Republican votes, while Crist received 80 percent of Democrats. Crist leads among independent voters 40-34. Scott was more popular with male voters -- 46-43 -- while Crist led with women -- 45-44.
Both candidates are known commodities, so Lee says it’s difficult to see either one losing or winning big come November.
“We’re looking at a close race right to the end here,” he said.
The poll was conducted March 31-April 3 with 800 registered Florida voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.46 percent.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.
For more on methodology, click here.