A new political survey shows just over half of Floridians rate Gov. Rick Scott’s job performance as “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable.” But there are still strong divisions in the state, as 39 percent gave him an “unfavorable” ranking.
Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the St. Leo University Polling Institute, said the two-term governor has done a good job rehabilitating his public image.
U.S. Senate Race
He added that it makes Scott the “clear leader” among Republicans to run for U.S. Senate against incumbent Bill Nelson in 2018.
“It’s going to be a very difficult challenge for someone to come in and take him (Scott) out, but the door’s open,” Orlando said. “Now, can he do the job this year to close the door? That’s something we’re going to be looking at throughout 2017.”
Orlando credited Scott’s name recognition and an improved economy for his higher approval rating. He said it also gives the governor political power in his fight with the state legislature over funding tourism and business growth in the state.
The St. Leo survey also revealed that voters are less certain about who should take over as governor in 2018.
When Democrats were asked to choose from a list of names who they supported for governor in their primary - “I don’t know” was the number one answer, with 35.5 percent.
“I don’t know” also was the most popular choice among one-third of the Republicans when provided a list of names.
Orlando said that’s because there’s little clarity at this time on who is running in either party.
“One thing is for sure, none of these candidates seems to be an overwhelming, sure thing in the governor’s race,” Orlando said. “All of the candidates will have some work to do to get their name out there, to get their favorability up, to put them into a position to win.”
The poll found that Democrats' number two choice to run for governor was former Congressman Patrick Murphy with 20 percent; attorney John Morgan with 9 percent and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who officially declared his candidacy, with nearly 4 percent.
Among the Republicans, the results show former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (who now lives in Florida) with almost 30 percent and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam with 12.6 percent. The online survey had a 4.5 percent margin of error.