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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Poll: Nelson leads Scott in probable U.S. Senate race



Bill Nelson leads Rick Scott in a hypothetical U.S. Senate matchup, a new University of North Florida poll shows.

Democratic Sen. Nelson takes 44 percent of the vote vs. Republican Gov. Scott’s 38 percent, with 12 percent undecided. Scott has not officially entered the race but has made clear he intends to.

“Even though it’s very early in the 2018 election season, Nelson’s six-point lead is meaningful,” said Michael Binder, UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory faculty director. “This race is going to get national attention and Rick Scott’s alliance with Donald Trump will likely factor into this election’s outcome next year.”

The poll was conducted Feb. 13-Feb 26 via phone, with 973 completed surveys. The margin of error is +/- 3.14 percentage points. It found 51 percent of voters disapprove of Trump while 44 percent approve the job he is doing.

“Trump’s soft job-approval numbers could have huge implications during the midterm races, just ask all the Democrats that lost in 2010 when Obama’s numbers were the lowest they had been to that point, and Republicans that ran in 2006, when Bush’s popularity was plummeting,” Binder said.

The following is from the poll news release:

An even greater percentage of Florida registered voters—65 percent—disapprove of the way the U.S. Congress is handling its job, while 28 percent approve. When asked about Marco Rubio, 48 percent of Florida registered voters disapprove of the way he’s handling his job as U.S. Senator, while 40 percent approve and 12 percent don’t know.

“Even though Rubio was able to win re-election in November, he’s continued to have low job-approval numbers,” Binder said. “It will be interesting to see how his latest interactions with protestors affects his approval going forward.”

For Bill Nelson, 42 percent of Florida registered voters approve of his job performance as U.S. Senator, 28 percent disapprove and 29 percent don’t know.

“A 42 percent job approval isn’t a number an incumbent is usually happy about but with only 28 percent of the electorate disapproving of the job he’s doing, Nelson is a net positive 14 points. That difference in approval is greater than Rubio, Trump and his likely re-election opponent, Scott,” said Binder.

The majority—51 percent—of Florida registered voters disapprove, while 46 percent approve of Trump’s travel ban executive order, which prohibits travel to the U.S. for the next three months by citizens of seven majority Muslim countries. It also suspends the U.S. refugee program. Following national trends, Florida opposes the Trump immigration ban, but the state is divided, according to Binder.

For all of the controversy surrounding transgender rights, 62 percent of registered Florida voters don’t think using the same bathroom as a transgender individual would make them uneasy. The overwhelming majority—79 percent—don’t think transgender individuals are a sexual threat to children and women.

“Hopefully, findings like these can change the way the debate over the rights of transgender people is presented in the media,” said Dr. Curtis Phills, UNF associate professor of psychology. “Too often, which bathroom a transgender person uses is presented as controversial when, in fact, most people aren't concerned.”

[Last modified: Sunday, March 5, 2017 10:55pm]


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