Gov. Rick Scott headed into Tuesday’s election as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation and emerged victorious defeating former Gov. Charlie Crist by 2-percentage points, 49 to 47 percent.
A Public Policy Polling survey released two days before the election found Scott’s favorability remained underwater with 41 percent of respondents approving of his performance and 48 percent with an unfavorable opinion.
Despite that, Scott joined former Gov. Jeb Bush as the only two Republican governors to win reelection in the modern era. He had some helped. In the waning days of the campaign the NRA spent up to $2 million dollars in broadcast ads, mailers, phone calls and email blasts in support of Scott.
Marion Hammer, a past NRA president and executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida said the group launched a massive effort on Scott’s behalf.
“It was important to gun owners to keep a governor who would protect 2-nd Amendment rights,” said Hammer. “His victory proved once again that 2 –nd Amendment supporters make a difference in elections. Gov. Scott is a strong supporter of law abiding gun owners and he won. Charlie Crist turned his back on Florida law abiding gun owners, he flipped flopped on us and he lost.”
The Florida Chamber spent $7 million in voter education programs and deployed a digital and social media campaign to get out the vote to elect “pro-job candidates.”
Spokeswoman Edie Ousley said voters, “voted in support of jobs and education and made a decision to look less like Washington and more like Florida by reelecting Gov. Rick Scott.”
Scott also spent about $13 million of his own money into the campaign.
Florida TaxWatch CEO and President Dominic Calabro gives much of the credit for the victory to Scott. TaxWatch is a nonpartisan watchdog group focused on government spending and economic issues. It does not endorse candidates nor contribute to campaigns.
“He was singular focused and disciplined with a very compelling message about jobs and the economy,” said Calabro. “He had a very strong record of actions that he took that expressed the progress that is being demonstrated by official government statistics from outside of the state of Florida.”
Calabro said there were many things unusual about the race, including a candidate who is unpopular personally but an advocate of popular policies. He added it may be unfair for a governor to be blamed for a recession or credited for the recovery but it is the nature of the game.
Calabro gives Scott credit for focusing in a very discipline fashion on job creation, capital formation and economic diversification.
“There are still challenges, there are still holes. We are not batting a thousand,” said Calabro. “But the numbers objectively are showing that Florida is growing better, stronger and faster than the nation.”
Both Calabro and Ousley expect Scott’s second term to focus on healthcare, energy, and water issues. Calabro expects a focus on economic diversification to continue as a by-product of growing the tourism industry.
Hammer said that although her 2015 legislative agenda has not been set yet she expects it will probably include legislation authorizing firearm-carry permission during a mandatory evacuation and addressing stand-your-ground hearings where a law abiding citizen must prove that he acted in self-defense.