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Poll shows Gov. Rick Scott spinning wheels on job approval rating

Published Feb. 11, 2015

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott won re-election, but he can't win the hearts of Florida voters.

The latest statewide poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University again shows Scott has a negative job approval rating, with 42 percent of voters approving of his performance and 47 percent disapproving.

"He is back underwater," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll.

Scott's stubbornly low approval ratings have stalked him since he took office in 2011, even as a majority of voters are positive about the overall direction of the state of Florida.

The latest survey of 936 voters comes two months after Scott won a second term over Democrat Charlie Crist in a close, bruising contest that offended many voters because of its incessantly negative tone.

The last Quinnipiac poll in November showed that 41 percent of voters viewed Scott favorably and 49 percent unfavorably.

Scott's all-time low favorability rating in Quinnipiac was 28 percent in May 2011, four months after he took office, when many voters had not yet formed opinions about him.

His favorability rating has never exceeded 42 percent in a Quinnipiac poll.

In the latest survey, Quinnipiac questioned 936 voters between Jan. 22 and Feb. 1, at the height of the controversy over Scott's forced ouster of the former commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gerald Bailey. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

The latest poll is further evidence that Scott is struggling to find his footing at the start of his second term.

For Scott, the persistently poor poll numbers truly are personal. In the same survey, 67 percent of voters said they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in Florida, 59 percent rated the state's economy as good or excellent, and 53 percent said they were "generally optimistic" about the next four years with Scott in charge.

Nearly half of all voters surveyed, 46 percent, said they are better off financially than a year ago, 28 percent said their status is the same and 25 percent said they are worse off financially.

Two other swing-state governors in the Connecticut school's poll fared much better than Scott. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, was viewed favorably by 55 percent of voters, and new Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, was at 52 percent.

The poll also shows Florida voters are generally satisfied with their two U.S. senators. Forty-seven percent approve of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's handling of his job and 35 percent disapprove, while 44 percent said he deserves a second term in 2016. Rubio, a potential candidate for President, has not yet announced whether he will seek a second term next year.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who's up for re-election in 2018, scored a job approval rating of 43 percent with 26 percent disapproving and 31 percent with no opinion of a three-term senator who has been a fixture in Florida politics for four decades.

Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com. Follow @stevebousquet on Twitter.