Someone kidnap Bud Chiles! Latest Rasmussen poll has Scott leading Sink 35%-31%, because Chiles gets 16%

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Someone shoot Bud Chiles!

Rick Scott remains the stronger of the two Republican hopefuls for governor of Florida against Democrat Alex Sink, with independent candidate “Bud” Chiles siphoning votes from both parties.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Florida shows Scott with 35% of the vote, Sink with 31% and Chiles trailing at 16%. Six percent (6%) like some other candidate in the race, and 12% are undecided.

If state Attorney General Bill McCollum is the GOP candidate, Sink earns 31% of the vote to McCollum’s 27%. Chiles picks up 20% of the vote. Eight percent (8%) favor another candidate, and 13% remain undecided.

This is the first Rasmussen Reports survey to include Chiles, the son of a popular former Democratic governor. In June, Scott posted a 45% to 40% lead over Sink, while McCollum edged the Democrat 40% to 38%.

Scott, a multimillionare health care executive with a controversial past, jumped into the GOP race in the spring and has spent millions on TV and radio advertising to promote himself as a more conservative alternative to McCollum. Before his arrival, McCollum, a former congressman and longtime Florida Republican player, had been moving comfortably toward the party’s nomination and running consistently ahead of Sink. The Republicans will pick their nominee in an August 24 primary.

Sink, Florida’s chief financial officer, is unchallenged for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Florida at McCollum’s direction is the chief plaintiff in a lawsuit involving a number of other states that challenges the constitutionality of the new national health care plan. Florida voters are now evenly divided over that suit.

Ironically, Scott earns stronger support than McCollum among voters who favor the suit, while just over half of those who oppose the legal action back Sink.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Florida voters regard Scott as a conservative, and just 34% place his views in the mainstream. Forty percent (40%) say they are extreme.

McCollum is seen as a conservative by 53%, with another 20% who say he’s a moderate. Thirty-eight percent (38%) rate his views mainstream, while 39% see them as extreme.

Sink’s views are harder for voters to characterize: 16% say she’s conservative, 36% moderate and 25% liberal. For 39%, her views are in the mainstream, but 22% view her as extreme.

Chiles, the newcomer in the race, is an unknown to over one-third of the state’s voters. But 17% rate him as a conservative, 31% as a moderate and 17% as a liberal. Twenty-nine percent (29%) place him in the mainstream, while 22% say he’s extreme. Fifty percent (50%) aren’t sure.

Eight percent (8%) of the state’s voters now have a Very Favorable opinion of Chiles, while 10% view him Very Unfavorably.

Sink is viewed Very Favorably by 14% and Very Unfavorably by nine percent (9%).

For McCollum, Very Favorables are six percent (6%) and Very Unfavorables 23%.

Sixteen percent (16%) share a Very Favorable view of Scott, but 31% see him Very Unfavorably.

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.