"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican, enters his reelection year trailing former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned independent-turned Democrat, 47 – 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
"This compares to a 47 – 37 percent Crist lead in a June 18 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, and a 50 – 34 percent Crist lead in March.
"Gov. Scott gets a negative 42 – 47 percent job approval rating, compared to a 43 – 44 percent score June 18, Scott’s best score ever. Voters approve 53 – 36 percent of the job Crist did as governor.
"Scott tops Democrat Nan Rich 43 – 35 percent. In a Democratic primary, Crist tops Rich 60 – 12 percent.
Here's something Quinnipiac didn't note: the biggest shift in the data since its last poll in June: Charlie Crist’s image is taking a beating. In the June poll, Crist was had a favorable-unfavorable rating of 48/31 percent, an index of +17. Today's poll: 41/39. That's only a +2.
Put another way, it's a net loss of 15 points in five months.
The big loss was among independents, regarded as Crist's strength. In June, Crist 's fav/unfav was 49/30, an index +19 among independents. Now he's 38/41, or –3. That's a big 22-point shift in 5 months.
Some of this is the work of Scott's team. They already began advertising against Crist as soon as he jumped in the race. And it's one of the reasons that Sen. Bill Nelson and his backers won't firmly slam the door on the idea of him getting in the race.
That said, a 7-point lead against an incumbent is still good.
And Scott still isn't well-liked. Unlike Crist, people are more likely to hold an unfavorable impression of the governor, with his fav/unfav sitting at 39/42 percent. That's an index of -3.
As for how Scott is handling his job, the governor's numbers are also nothing worthy to brag about; 42 percent approve; 47 percent disapprove. That's an index of -5. It was -1 in June (an all-time high at 43/44 percent).
But elections aren't always about making sure you're the most-loved. They can be about making the other guy more-hated.
The latter is Rick Scott's strategy. And it might be working.