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The Hollingsworth Effect, pt. 2: FL Chamber poll shows Rick Scott approval slips

@MarcACaputo

Gov. Rick Scott's poll numbers continue to remain somewhere between not-so-good and bad -- even in a survey touted by one of his biggest backers, the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Its poll, released Tuesday, showed Scott's job approval rating has dropped 7 percentage points since its last likely voter survey in June. But the chamber won't actually tell you that. The trend stat was absent from the chamber's press release.

The drop is yet another sign that Scott's poll-obsessed chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, is struggling in fulfilling his mission of improving the governor's public standing (yes, as noted previously, Scott bears ultimate responsibility for his image).

Hollingsworth made public-opinion surveys front and center when he told staffers that they need to help Scott's numbers improve, as we noted last month. But Public Policy Polling and Quinnipiac University surveys indicated that not much has improved in the Hollingsworth era. Add the chamber's polls, conducted by Cherry Communications, to the mix.

Rather than mention the Scott slippage, the chamber said its poll showed Scott would crush Democrat Nan Rich, 40-29%, and would do pretty well in a hypothetical match-up vs. former Gov. Charlie Crist, trailing his predecessor 41-46%.

The relatively small, 5-point margin vs. Crist would seem like an outlier (other public and private polls show Crist with leads around 10 or so) were it not for a recent University of North Florida survey showing Scott trailing by just 4 points, 40-44 percent.

Maybe there's a trend.

And as has been said before: It ain't the topline, it's the trend that counts. And the chamber trend shows Scott slipped from 54 percent job approval to 47 percent.

But the chamber doesn't note that in its press release: "Governor Rick Scott’s job approval rating continues to remain positive, with 47 percent of likely voters approving of the job he’s doing. At the same time, likely gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s favorability is dropping – down to 43 percent."

Crist is dropping?

From what?

Crist's favorables weren't included in the press release about the chamber's last poll, so there's no benchmark. Also, favorability is different from job approval, and the failure to note Scott's favorables is conspicuously absent. Understand, Crist used to be a chamber darling when he was still governor and a June 2010 chamber poll showed him with a sizable lead in the U.S. Senate race while other polls showed a smaller margin. Crist lost to Marco Rubio.

Also unmentioned by the chamber's polls: what is the job disapproval rate for Scott? With that number, we could index his rating (The chamber provided the disapproval in its March survey, 43 percent). With that as a benchmark, by some estimates, Scott's approval index in June could have been about +12 to +14 percent (an outlier); now it's +4 (if he returned to the chamber's March levels). So his index could have lost as many as 10 points.

But let's stick with the number we know: The 7-point drop.

Is 7 points a big deal? It was when Scott's job-approval ticked up that exact amount between the chamber's March and June polls. At that time, Scott's all-time high was singled out by the chamber:

"Governor Scott’s job approval rating has risen to 54 percent, up from 47 in March, and Floridians credit Governor Scott by nearly two-to-one (42 percent to 23 percent) over President Barack Obama for the state’s improved right track direction."

So a 7-point uptick is great. But a 7-point drop? Nothin' to see here, folks. But look at how bad Crist is doing!

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