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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Republican Gov. Rick Scott rallied supporters in November to grab a come-from-behind victory over Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in one of the nation’s fiercest gubernatorial races.
But that doesn’t mean Scott is popular with voters.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday indicated that 42 percent of Florida voters approve of the way Scott is handling his job, while 47 percent disapprove. Those numbers are similar to the way voters viewed Scott throughout his first four years in office. In a January 2014 Quinnipiac poll, for example, 41 percent of voters approved of the way Scott was handling his job.
Somewhat ironically, Scott’s low numbers continued as Florida voters expressed optimism about the next four years and their financial conditions, according to the poll.
“Florida Gov. Rick Scott has never been popular,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a prepared statement accompanying the results. “He spent virtually his entire first term with a negative job approval and was reelected by the narrowest of margins. Now he is back underwater with voters. But it doesn’t matter because the one time he had more supporters than opponents was when it counted — on Election Day. Even though Florida voters have a negative view of him, they are optimistic about the next four years with him in control.”
The poll of 936 Florida voters was conducted from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1. That came amid a controversy about the way Scott and his aides ousted former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. Scott acknowledged last week that he could have “handled it better.”
The poll did not ask voters about the Bailey issue, so it is not clear whether the controversy affected opinions of Scott.
But the governor, who has focused heavily during the past four years on economic issues, can take away some positive indicators from the poll.
For instance, 53 percent of voters said they were generally optimistic about the next four years with Scott as governor, while 39 percent said they were pessimistic. Also, 59 percent said they thought the state of Florida’s economy was good or excellent, while 38 percent said it was “not so good” or poor.
The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states. The new Florida poll came at the same time Quinnipiac surveyed votes in Ohio and Pennsylvania — with the states chosen because they are expected to be crucial during the 2016 presidential election.
The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.