Rick Scott is so far one of the least popular Florida governors in recent memory with almost half of registered voters saying he’s doing a bad job in office, a new poll shows.
Only 35 percent voters give the Republican newcomer a positive job-approval rating, according to the latest Florida survey of 1,499 registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University.
The reasons for Scott’s popularity problems are varied: an economy on life support, power scuffles with lawmakers from his own party, a newly energized left that deeply dislikes him and a hard-right governing style that seems to estrange middle-of-the-road independent voters who swing elections.
“Today, Scott is a four-letter word to many Florida voters, but political popularity can change with time,” Quinnipiac pollster Peter A. Brown said.
“The fact that Scott is as unpopular as the State Legislature, which has a 47 – 35 percent disapproval rating, is evidence of the depth of his problem,” Brown said in a press statement. “It is exceedingly rare for an unindicted governor or president to ever be seen as poorly by the electorate as his legislature or Congress.”
Compared to his predecessors, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, Scott’s poll numbers are in the cellar.
Also weighing on Scott: his proposed budget, which calls for deep cuts and as many as 6,000 actual state-worker layoffs. More than half of voters, 53 percent, say the proposed budget and its cuts are unfair to people like them. About 37 percent say it’s fair.
Almost half of voters say Scott’s budget cuts go “too far;” 16 percent want more cuts and 29 percent say the cuts are “about right.”
The Legislature has largely ignored Scott’s big ticket budget and tax cuts in the meantime.
But the Quinnipiac poll is not all bad news for Scott. Voters overwhelmingly approve of his plan to drug test current state workers and job applicants. The poll says 78 percent like the idea; only 20 percent are opposed.
In a February Quinnipiac poll, roughly the same percentage of voters – 35 percent – favored Scott’s job performance. Only 22 percent had a negative view. Now, those with a negative opinion have more than doubled – to 48 percent.
But do the poll results really matter? Probably not at this point.
Consider the case of Charlie Crist, who enjoyed a “stratospheric” job-approval rating of 73 percent three months into his first term, according to a March 2007 Quinnipiac poll. Only 9 percent said he was doing a bad job.
Yet, slowly, Crist’s popularity eroded as the economy deteriorated and he was unable to win election last November in his U.S. Senate race.
The Quinnipiac poll isn’t the only survey that finds Scott deeply unpopular. Last week, Public Policy Polling said just 32 percent of voters approved of Scott’s job performance – compared to 55 percent of voters who disliked the job he was doing.
The firm, associated with Democratic candidates, noted that Scott took office with poor job-approval ratings. Scott, compared to each of the other three Republicans elected statewide to the Florida Cabinet in November, received the fewest votes and barely beat his Democratic rival.
“You could say Rick Scott's honeymoon is over...but that would suggest he had one in the first place,” Tom Jensen, a public policy polling analyst wrote last week.