Monday, December 11, 2017
Politics

Times/Herald/Bay News 9 exclusive poll: Rick Scott remains unpopular, trails potential 2014 opponents

TALLAHASSEE — 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 in the poll disapprove of Scott's job performance, 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.

Thelma Miranda of Palm City, a Republican and retired nursery owner, said she voted for Scott two years ago but would consider an alternative in 2014, especially a woman like Sink.

Miranda said she could not recall anything Crist did in four years as governor other than his marriage nearly midway through his term.

"I can't remember," she said. "He was a single fellow, and he got married. He's kind of wishy-washy. Maybe we do need a woman in there."

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 only 81 percent of voters recognized her name. When Sink narrowly lost to Scott in 2010, 98 percent of voters recognized her name.

A retired bank executive from suburban Tampa, Sink lost to Scott in 2010 by 1.2 percentage points, or about 60,000 votes out of more than 4 million cast. She is considering running again in 2014.

If Sink were to challenge Scott a second time, she would need to raise and spend millions of dollars just to reintroduce herself to a very forgetful Florida electorate.

Scott's incumbency makes him a formidable candidate in 2014, despite his sagging popularity.

But he needs more supporters such as Joan Morton, 85, a retired nurse in Ponte Vedra Beach near Jacksonville, and a Republican.

"He's doing everything he said he would do," Morton said. "I applaud him for that. He didn't go along with Obamacare. He said he wouldn't, and he didn't."

Andrew Ianniello, a retired IBM employee in Punta Gorda, said Scott is too extreme.

"Scott wants to privatize prisons and everything else, and a lot of people have lost their jobs because of that," said Ianniello, who moved south from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to escape the harsh winters. "There's been too much privatization going on."

Ianniello, 76, a self-described Ronald Reagan Democrat, said Scott favors the rich over the middle class.

He said he prefers Crist's moderate brand of politics and did not know anything about Sink — not even her gender.

"I don't see his name in the paper that much," Ianniello said. "What has he done?"

Times/Herald staff writer Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report. Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Final push for Moore and Jones in Alabama Senate race

Final push for Moore and Jones in Alabama Senate race

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama Democrats see Tuesday’s special Senate election as a chance to renounce a history littered with politicians whose race-baiting, bombast and other baggage have long soiled the state’s reputation beyond its borders. Many Repu...
Updated: 7 hours ago
As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive br...
Published: 12/10/17

Same income, but not taxes, in GOP plan

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it.Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the sam...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Renegade Republican Roy Moore may be plagued by scandal, but it will take more than that to convince the voters of 44th Place North to show up for Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday. In a state where Democrats are used to losing, the m...
Published: 12/09/17
 ‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

WASHINGTON — Around 5:30 each morning, President Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to "Fox & Friends" for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s "...
Published: 12/09/17
Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

  It seems like a distant memory now, but Al Franken’s arrival in the U.S. Senate eight years ago marked the very moment when Democrats’ control of Washington reached its highest point in a generation. After an eight-month recount, the ...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, said Thursday he would resign his seat in a statement where he acknowledged discussing surrogacy with two former female subordinates.Franks...
Published: 12/07/17
Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced Thursday he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and the collapse of support from his Democratic colleagues, a swift political fall for a once...
Published: 12/07/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Romano: Like him or not, Latvala deserves a fair hearing

Romano: Like him or not, Latvala deserves a fair hearing

At some point, the truth has to matter, right? Evidence, due process, all of that? No matter how you feel about Sen. Jack Latvala personally (and I’ve never been a huge fan) or how you feel about the overzealousness of his defense (which I cr...
Published: 12/07/17