Gov. Rick Scott faces sagging approval ratings in Tampa Bay area

Published Jan. 6, 2013

TALLAHASSEE — If Gov. Rick Scott wants to make up ground in the Interstate 4 corridor in his bid for re-election, he might want to start in the Tampa Bay area's two largest counties.

Almost twice as many adults in Pinellas and Hillsborough gave Scott a subpar rating than those who gave him a passing mark, according to a Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/AM 820 News poll.

Only 23 percent rated Scott's job performance as "good" or "excellent," while 42 percent said they rated him as doing a "poor" or "not so good" job. Those who rate him "average" made up 27 percent of the respondents.

Of the two counties, Scott's numbers are substantially worse in Pinellas. While 33 percent of voters rated him not so good or poor in Hillsborough, 52 percent gave him that rating in Pinellas — which just happens to be the home turf of Charlie Crist, the former governor who may challenge Scott in 2014.

"It will be real interesting if Charlie Crist decides to run," said Matt Avila, 51, a moderate independent in St. Petersburg. "Scott has done a poor job. He didn't have any experience in public policy and didn't consult with anyone before making decisions like killing high-speed rail. We need someone who will listen."

The poll was conducted Dec. 5-13 by Braun Research, a national polling firm in Princeton, N.J., that interviewed 521 residents by phone. It has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

The Times/Bay News 9/AM 820 News poll comes the same month that a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,261 registered voters showed Scott's overall approval rating at 36 percent. In that poll, Scott's low numbers persisted even when broken down by gender, race, income levels or education. Only 31 percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Scott, while Crist drew a 47 percent favorable rating.

Scott's support remains strong among conservatives such as Tom Curtis, a 76-year-old pastor in Dover.

"He's done a really good job," Curtis said. "We couldn't afford high-speed rail, so he was right to get rid of that. And he's more of a businessman. He's the best person for the job."

Contact Michael Van Sickler at