Former Governor Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, tops Governor Rick Scott 50 – 34 percent among registered voters if the 2014 election were today, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Gov. Scott leads State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam 47 – 24 percent in a GOP primary.
Alex Sink, the Democrat who lost to Scott in 2010, leads him 45 – 34 percent today.
Florida voters say 50 – 40 percent that Crist’s switch from Republican to independent and now to Democrat is a positive thing that shows he is a pragmatist, rather than a negative thing that shows he lacks core beliefs.
Scott’s potential vulnerability is evidenced by the fact that only 32 percent of voters say he deserves a second term in office, including just 28 percent of independent voters. His job approval rating is a negative 36 – 49 percent, compared to his negative 36 – 45 percent disapproval in a December 19 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University.
“There isn’t much good news in these numbers for Gov. Rick Scott, but there is some,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “His large lead over Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam in a hypothetical Republican primary gives him some solace that he does not have to worry about an intraparty challenge. Scott’s support among Republicans appears pretty solid, although he has a lot of fences to mend with independent voters and he has virtually no crossover appeal to Democrats.
“The fact that voters think it’s an asset that former Gov. Charlie Crist moved from conservative Republican to a Democrat with very different political views will be a key metric to watch between now and the 2014 voting.”
“These numbers indicate Republicans will have a tough job turning around Crist’s lead over Scott by reminding voters of Crist’s evolution,” said Brown.
In a Crist-Scott matchup, the incumbent carries Republicans 76 – 16 percent, but loses Democrats 81 – 7 percent and loses the crucial independent vote 49 – 29 percent.
“If Scott is to have any chance for a second term he needs to win a greater share of Republicans than he loses among Democrats and move into parity among independents,” said Brown. “There is little gender gap: 49 percent of men and 51 percent of women back Crist.”
In other potential gubernatorial matchups, Sink leads Putnam 37 – 29 percent and Crist tops Putnam 49 – 30 percent.
Florida voters remain strongly behind the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, 56 – 36 percent, virtually unchanged from last June’s 56 – 37 percent support. Support is 62 – 32 percent among men, 51 – 40 percent among women, 78 – 15 percent among Republicans and 62 – 30 percent among independent voters. Democrats are opposed 58 – 36 percent. White voters support “Stand Your Ground” 62 – 31 percent with black voters opposed 62 – 26 percent. Hispanic voters are divided with 47 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed.
When it comes to popular appeal, voters view Scott unfavorably 46 – 33 percent, while Crist gets a 49 – 30 percent positive favorability. Sink gets a 29 – 12 percent favorability while 58 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion, with 80 percent who don’t know enough about Putnam.
Scott’s proposal that every public school teacher in Florida receive a $2,500 pay raise gets 74 – 21 percent support. And, by 50 – 40 percent, voters back his decision to expand Medicaid coverage to new recipients.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wins a 49 – 28 percent job approval, with 48 – 33 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio. Voters disapprove 52 – 25 percent of the job the State Legislature is doing.
From March 13 – 18, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,000 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. The survey includes 353 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 5.2 percent. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.