PPP: Nelson opens up lead on Mack; Crist popularity waning
From Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling:
The Florida Senate race is one of the strangest in the country this year. Bill Nelson has middling approval numbers, with only 35% of voters approving of him to 42% who disapprove. Usually an incumbent in that kind of position would be doomed for defeat. And yet Nelson has a 7 point lead over Connie Mack IV, 45-38, representing a 5 point increase in his lead compared to our last poll in late July.
The reason Nelson's ahead despite being unpopular is that Mack is even more unpopular. Only 27% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 45% with an unfavorable one. Just 17% of independents have a positive opinion of Mack to 48% with a negative one, and much of Nelson's lead comes thanks to a 45-29 advantage with that group.
This campaign kind of represents the new norm in electoral politics- millions have been spent bashing the heck out of both candidates, so voters dislike both of them and are kind of just choosing the lesser of two evils. For now that's Nelson.
Other notes from Florida:
-Charlie Crist isn't a particularly popular figure in Florida anymore. After his endorsement of President Obama only 36% of voters in the state now have a positive opinion of him to 44% with a negative one. He's lost most of his remaining appeal to Republican voters- he was at 34/49 with them a month ago and now he's dropped a net 21 points to 24/60. Democrats still appear to be somewhat skeptical of him as well though- 44% rate him positively to 33% with a negative opinion.
44% of voters in the state now think he should complete the switch and join the Democratic Party to 20% who think he should not. There's bipartisan consensus on that front with Democrats (56/12), independents (39/13), and Republicans (36/32) all saying he should do that.
In a hypothetical match Crist, running as a Democrat, would lead Rick Scott 45-42. A generic Democrat would lead Scott by the exact same 45-42 spread so it's not like Democrats would need Crist to be their standard bearer in order to knock off Scott- he's lost much of what was once his unique appeal.
Scott's approval rating is 41% with 49% of voters disapproving of him. Although he continues to be unpopular these are actually the best numbers we've found for him since he took office.
-A plurality of Florida voters- 42%- have no opinion about Debbie Wasserman Schultz one way or another. Among those who do 26% see her positively to 31% with a negative opinion. Republicans (10/50) dislike her a little bit more than Democrats (42/17) like her.
-And finally Democrats lead the generic Congressional ballot in Florida 44-43, including a 39-28 advantage with independents.