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Q-Poll: Charlie Crist up by 8 over Rick Scott; 54% say gov shouldn't be reelected


So much for Scott-mentum.

Gov. Rick Scott appears to no longer be narrowing the gap with Democratic rival Charlie Crist who leads the Republican 46-38 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that shows the challenger's 8-point margin is essentially unchanged since the firm's last survey in late November.

Two months ago, Crist led Scott by 7 points. Before then, Crist led Scott by 10 in June and by 16 in March.

Still, expect the numbers to change and the race to tighten. If past elections are any gauge, this race will likely be decided by a point or two.

 Perhaps most-troubling for Scott: Only 38 percent of respondents said he should be re-elected; a clear majority of 54 percent said the Republican shouldn't get another term.

And Scott only leads Democrat Nan Rich 41-37 percent, even though 86 percent said they don't know enough about her. Also expect Libertarian backers of candidate Adrian Wyllie to complain his name wasn't included in the survey (although it did give people a "someone else" option if they didn't want to pick Scott or Crist).

Expect the aerial bombardment of Crist to begin soon from the Scott juggernaut, which has the money and the know-how to move poll numbers, especially by way of negative ads.

Meantime, this Quinnipiac poll shows Scott earns his worst job-approval rating in a year, 41-49 percent. 

Almost as troubling for the Republican: Crist narrowly edges Scott on the question of who would handle the economy best; 47 percent say Crist and 42 percent say Scott. Remember that Scott and the state Republican Party have long been raising awareness of the fact that Crist took office with a 3.5 percent unemployment rate and left with an 11.1 percent rate in December 2010. Scott then took over and now the unemployment rate has fallen back to 6.2 percent.

Many voters, like economists, are likely to cut Crist some slack for what happened on his watch, considering the national and global financial meltdown. There's only so much a governor might be blamed, or credited, for the state's economy. But time, and campaigning, will tell.

What hasn't changed: Scott still isn't well liked. Only 38 percent view him favorably, 45 percent view him favorably. That's a negative index of -7. Crist's index is a positive +9 (44-35 percent). 

Other polls show different results. PPP had Crist up just 43-41, with Scott narrowing the gap by 10 points since September. But another poll from a Democratic-leaning firm, Hamilton Campaigns, showed Crist up 49-44 over Scott, an increase of about 5 for Crist. An internal Rick Scott poll late last year of likely voters showed Crist up 49-45 over Scott (Note: PPP uses robo-polling technology, Quinnipiac, Hamilton and Fabrizio, McLaughlin don't.)

Here's the Q poll and crosstabs:  Download JanQPoll