There is bad news for Republican Florida Gov. Richard L. Scott in a Nov. 9 Human Events/Gravis poll of registered voters in Sunshine State with respondents preferring former governor Charles J. Crist Jr., 46 percent to 36 percent one year before the election.
The poll also questioned voters about gay marriage, medical marijuana, Obamacare and gun rights, as well as about Sen. Marco A. Rubio (R.-Fla.) and former first lady and senator Hillary R. Clinton. The poll was a random sample of 932 registered voters in the state.
Among Independents Crist beats Scott 51 percent to 30 percent with 19 percent undecided, he said.
Only 33 percent of voters think Scott understands and cares about the issues facing average Floridians, compared to 46 percent for Crist.
“Fifty-two percent of voters disapprove of Scott, compared to 33 percent approve with 15 percent undecided,” he said.
Scott’s own weaknesses are helping Crist, who has his own problems with voters, he said. “Forty percent of voters approve of Crist and 38 percent disapprove and the rest undecided.”
Asked: “If you were broken down, who do you think would stop and offer to fix your tire?” Thirty-six percent said Crist, 22 percent said Scott and 42 percent said neither.
University of Florida’s Professor Daniel A. Smith, one of the state’s leading political scientists and observers, said predicting the governor’s race is tricky.
“Besides Rick Scott’s abysmally low approval numbers–only one in three Floridians approve of the governor–what strikes me the most is the high percentage of those polled undecided about Charlie Crist,” he said.
“I’d really like to see the cross-tabs to get a better sense of whether this is being driven by discomfort among some Democrats, viewing Crist as a Johnny-come-lately Democrat, or Republicans fed up with Governor Scott, but unsure with how left the former governor will become after being re-branded,” he said. “That said, if Governor Scott spends anywhere close to $100 million on his reelection campaign, he should be able to move some of the undecided voters.”
In the poll, Rubio, a possible candidate for president in 2016, has an approval rating of 44 percent, 43 percent unfavorable.
Clinton, who served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state until her resignation in February, has an approval rating of 54 percent with 42 percent disapproving.
Judged head-to-head as presidential candidates, Clinton beats Rubio 49 percent to 45 percent with only six percent undecided.
Smith said he was not surprised by the Rubio and Clinton numbers.
“No surprise regarding the low approval ratings for Senator Rubio; he didn’t win a majority when he was elected in 2010, and he’s clearly a polarizing figure,” he said. “Odds are that Hillary Clinton would clean his clock in Florida in 2016 if they both become their parties’ nominees in the presidential race.”
In other results:
Gay marriage is favored 45 to 43 percent.
Asked: “Should the state of Florida have cooperated with Obamacare?” 48 percent said yes, 43 percent no.
Nearly four months after the end of the George Zimmerman murder trial, 42 percent of Floridians want to restrict gun rights with 36 percent wanting to expand gun rights.
Forty-five percent favored the legalization of medical marijuana, but 41 percent opposed it.
Smith said the support for medical marijuana in the Florida poll is softer than he has seen in other polls.
“I’m also quite surprised at the low support for medical marijuana ballot measure; over the past decade and a half, voters in nearly every state in which this issue has been placed on the statewide ballot have approved the measure,” the political scientist said.
“Earlier polling suggested nearly 70 percent approval. If numbers are this low, I doubt Charlie Crist will support the measure.”