Gov. Rick Scott’s low standing with voters persists in a new Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll, and he should be more concerned about a possible 2014 rematch against Democrat Alex Sink than a challenge from a remade Charlie Crist.
Scott still can’t gain ground with his constituents even after a recent Republican Party TV ad blitz that emphasized his focus on improving schools.
An even 50 percent of voters disapprove of Scott’s job performance in the poll, with 38 percent approving and 12 percent not sure. That’s a slight change from a July Times/Herald/Bay News 9 poll in which 51 percent disapproved of Scott’s job performance, 40 percent approved and 9 percent had no opinion.
The telephone survey of 800 registered voters, all likely to vote in November, was conducted Sept. 17-19 for the Times, Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13.
The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon, a nonpartisan, Jacksonville-based company, and included respondents using land-line and cell phones. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The poll had ominous news for Crist, the Republican-turned-independent ex-governor who recently endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election. He retains sky-high name recognition of 96 percent but has lost much of his popularity, with voters now evenly divided on whether they like him.
The poll also revealed that Crist’s highly publicized endorsement of the president, including a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, has done nothing to help the president politically in Florida.
Only 8 percent of voters say they are more likely to vote for Obama because Crist endorsed him, and they already supported Obama. Another 13 percent say they are less likely to vote for the president because of Crist’s action, and the remaining 79 percent say it doesn’t matter.
In a hypothetical match-up for governor in 2014, Sink would beat Scott, 47 percent to 39 percent, with the rest undecided. Crist has a two-point edge over Scott in a similar match-up, 44 percent to 42 percent, but that’s within the poll’s margin of error.
"Alex Sink is much stronger against Scott in a rematch than Crist," pollster Brad Coker said. "(Scott’s) dream race would be against Charlie Crist."
Sink is more popular than Crist, with a better than 2-to-1 favorability rating, but one of five voters did not recognize her name, less than two years after she narrowly lost to Scott.
-- Steve Bousquet