Rasmussen poll: Rick Scott 42%, Charlie Crist 41%

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Republican Governor Rick Scott and his predecessor Charlie Crist are now neck-and-neck in Florida’s 2014 gubernatorial race.

Scott picks up 42% of the vote to Crist’s 41% in a new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of likely Florida voters. Eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate, while nine percent (9%) are undecided. The poll did not ask about Libertarian Adrian Wyllie.

In April, Crist lead Scott by six points – 45% to 39%.

Scott barely edged out Democrat Alex Sink 49% to 48% to win the 2010 election. Forty-six percent (46%) of Florida voters approve of the job he is doing as governor, while 45% disapprove. This includes 18% who Strongly Approve and 29% who Strongly Disapprove.

The governor draws support from 74% of Florida Republicans and 13% of Democrats. Crist is backed by 72% of Democrats and 14% of GOP voters. Scott has a slight lead among voters not affiliated with either major political party.

Voters trust Scott more than Crist to handle government spending by a 43% to 34% margin and by a narrower 42% to 39% when it comes to taxes. Crist holds similar small leads on social issues (44% to 40%) and government ethics and corruption (39% to 36%). But 16% to 25% of voters are not sure which candidate they trust more on all four issues.

The survey of 900 likely voters in Florida was conducted on July 29-30 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Neither gubernatorial candidate is overly popular at this point. Scott is viewed very favorably by 19% of Florida voters and very unfavorably by 28%. For Crist, very favorables are at 17%, while very unfavorables are at 29%. Both men are well known in the state, but at this point in an election cycle, Rasmussen Reports still considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

By comparison, 27% have a very favorable impression of Senator Marco Rubio, who defeated Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek in the 2010 election. Just as many (26%) view Rubio very unfavorably. Rubio’s name has been on virtually every short list of Republican presidential candidates since he was elected to the Senate, but a survey in April found that only 21% of Florida voters think Rubio should run for the presidency.

The state’s other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, is viewed very favorably by 16% and very unfavorably by 17%.

Florida voters are less negative about their state budget situation than voters are nationwide. Twenty-five percent (25%) say the budget situation in their state is better than it was a year ago, while 21% say it is worse. A plurality (46%) says the budget situation is about the same.

Crist leads 50% to 24% among voters who say the state’s budget picture is worse and 47% to 39% among those who say it is about the same. Scott has a 66% to 24% lead among voters who feel the budget situation is better now.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Florida voters think the primary focus of any immigration legislation passed by Congress should be to send the new wave of young illegal immigrants home as quickly as possible. Twenty-three percent (23%) disagree and think its chief aim should be to make it easier for them to remain in the United States. Twenty percent (20%) are not sure. Despite Florida’s large Hispanic population, these findings are similar to those on the national level.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of those who think Cognress should focus on sending these new illegal immigrants home support Scott. Crist has the backing of 72% of those who want Congress instead to make it easier for them to stay here.

Scott has strongly opposed the new national health care law, and voters in his state dislike the law as much or more than voters do on the national level. Forty percent (40%) of Florida voters view the law favorably, while 55% have an unfavorable opinion of it. This includes 17% with a very favorable view and 40% with a very unfavorable one. These findings are similar to those measured in April.

Crist picks up the vote from 83% of voters with a very favorable impression of Obamacare, while Scott is backed by 80% of the larger group with a very unfavorable opinion of it.

Twenty-four percent (24%) of Florida voters rate the U.S. economy as good or excellent, while 32% say it is poor. But 41% rate their own finances as good or excellent, while 21% describe their personal finances as poor.

President Obama edged out Mitt Romney by a 50% to 49% margin in 2012, and 49% of the state’s voters approve of the job he is doing today. Just as many (49%) disapprove of Obama’s performance. This includes 26% who Strongly Approve and 40% who Strongly Disapprove, making the president slightly more popular in Florida than on the national level.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.