A newly released statewide poll conducted by the University of North Florida finds Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson essentially tied with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, 37 percent to 36 percent, in a hypothetical matchup.
“Like most statewide races in Florida, the senate race between Nelson and Scott is going to be too close to call all the way until Election Day,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. “The one major concern for Democrats has to be the public’s lack of awareness of Nelson. When a three-term sitting U.S. senator has almost half of the sample unable to assess his job approval, you have a problem.”
Not everyone is watching, however. Pollsters found that 20 percent of voters surveyed Oct. 11 through 17 don’t know who their choice will be.
The Oct. 11 - 17 telephone survey of registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.39 percentage points. While Scott had a 59/28 approval/disapproval rating among the voters surveyed, Nelson’s was 35/15 with a whopping 49 percent saying they don’t now how he's handling his job.
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When asked about President Donald Trump’s job approval rating, 59 percent of the overall sample strongly or somewhat disapprove of how he’s handling his job, with only 37 percent approving. A vast amount of registered Democrats—91 percent—disapprove of Trump, while only 23 percent of registered Republicans disapprove. On the flip side, there is 72 percent job approval for Trump among registered Republicans, compared to only 33 percent for nonparty affiliates and other party registrants and a measly 6 percent job approval among registered Democrats.
“Donald Trump is just as divisive in Florida as he is across the rest of the country, but as long as he maintains support from Republicans, I wouldn’t expect any major changes in his administration,” Binder noted.
Another issue sharply divided by partisanship is what to do about Confederate statues. Overall, 40 percent of respondents believe they should remain in place, while 47 percent believe they should be moved to museums and another 9 percent believe they should be removed entirely. However, 66 percent of registered Republicans believe they should stay, while 76 percent of registered Democrats believe they should be moved to museums or removed completely.
Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.