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Gov. Rick Scott's approval inches up to 37 percent

Gov. Rick Scott's approval rating has slightly improved in the past seven weeks, but still rates among the worst of any swing-state governor polled by Quinnipiac University.

Heading into a three-day Republican presidential primary powwow in Orlando, the new poll released this morning shows Scott's approval at 37 percent. Half of all Floridians say they disapprove. That compares to a 35-52 percent split on Aug. 5.

"Gov. Scott certainly has a long way to go till he can see the breakeven point, but his ratings that dropped to awful are now just bad," said Peter Brown, assistant director at the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

After Scott's approval rating dropped to 29 percent in May, he replaced many of his closest advisers, hired longtime Tallahassee operative Steve MacNamara as chief of staff and has attempted to overhaul his image. He wears a more casual open collar instead of a jacket and tie and has embarked on so-called work days, making doughnuts, serving food in a cafeteria and working on a Naval base.

The charm offense seems to have helped Scott's standing among women, who are now split 36-36 percent when asked if they like Scott as a person. In August, 47 percent said they did not like Scott.

On job approval, 70 percent of Republicans now give Scott a thumbs-up, compared to 61 percent in August. Disapproval among Democrats has climbed to 82 percent from 78 percent in August.

Just 37 percent of voters say they approve of Scott's policies, but specific programs continue to test well. The last poll shows 71 percent - including 90 percent of Republicans - support the new law requiring welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving cash assistance. The law is being challenged in court, where opponents claim it is an unconstitutional government search.