Rick Scott narrows Charlie Crist’s lead to 4 points in new St. Leo University poll

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Former Gov. Charlie Crist still leads incumbent Gov. Rick Scott 43 to 39 percent in the race for Florida’s governorship, according to the latest polling out of Saint Leo University.

These newest numbers show the gap closing considerably since the end of 2013.

In a December poll, Crist’s dominance was at almost 12 points, with a lead of 46points, compared to only 34 points for Scott. That means since the last poll, there was an eight-point shift in favor of the incumbent, although Democrat Crist remains ahead.

“Our polling shows good news for Governor Scott as he’s been able to take a sizable chunk out of Charlie Crist’s lead,” said Frank Orlando, political science instructor at Saint Leo University. “Governor Scott has shored up some Republican voters, but he’s also doing about as well among independents and members of the opposing party as Mr. Crist. This is surprising, considering the fact that Crist, a former Republican, was expected to do well among Republicans and independents.”

Scott’s favorability rating is also beginning to creep up as 48 percent have a favorable view of the governor and 47 percent unfavorable. Among Republicans, Scott’s favorable numbers are 79 percent to 18 percent unfavorable, up 22 points since the December poll.

The same holds true for Scott’s overall job approval, at 45 percent positive to 47 negative. With Republicans, the numbers rise to 75 percent and 21 percent unfavorable – also up 20 points since December.

In December, Scott led Crist among Republicans, 65 percent to 17 percent (a 48-point gap). Now Scott bolstered the lead to 75 percent to 13 percent for Crist (a 62-point gap), a 14 point swing.

On the other hand, President Obama’s job approval rating in Florida slipped  to 39 percent positive to 60 percent negative, the current poll has him slipping from 44 positive and 53 percent negative in December.

When comparing incumbent Scott’s appeal to the other potential Democratic candidate, former State Sen. Nan Rich, the study found Scott leads Rich, 40 to 32 points.

The survey was a poll of 500 Florida adult residents conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute between March 16 and 19, 2014 and includes 401 likely voters. The margin of error is approximately +/-  5 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.