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Gov. Rick Scott's approval rating positive for first time since 2011

A new statewide poll in Florida by Quinnipiac University largely comes up empty by finding that every major candidate for U.S. Senate in both parties is so unknown that "none has achieved enough voter recognition for a valid measure of their favorability."

And in a small sign of progress for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, his job approval edged upward, with a divided electorate approving of his performance by 45 to 44 percent. That's hardly a ringing endorsement, but it marks the first time since February 2011, one month after Scott took office, that he scored a positive approval rating with voters. The previous Q-poll in late June had Scott underwater, with 39 percent approving of his job performance and 49 percent disapproving.

Quinnipiac theorized that Scott's poll numbers are improving for one simple reason: that he's largely been out of sight for most of the summer.

"With little attention on him these days, Gov. Scott gets his best approval rating ever, perhaps useful for the lame-duck governor who is rumored to be interested in running for the Senate in 2018," Quinnipiac's Peter Brown said. The school polled 1,093 Florida voters from Aug. 7 to 18. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

As expected, the race for U.S. Senate is completely wide open and very few voters recognize the names of the people jockeying to replace Republican Marco Rubio. In the GOP Senate field, 92 percent of voters have not heard of entrepreneur and combat veteran Todd Wilcox of Orlando; 87 percent didn't recognize the name of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach; and 86 percent didn't know enough about either U.S. Rep. David Jolly of St. Petersburg or Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera to rate him.

One big-name potential candidate, former state Attorney General and U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, was a mystery to 71 percent of voters, a stunning statistic considering McCollum has run statewide four times in the past 15 years, including previous Senate bids in 2000 and 2004.

Among Democrats, the most familiar name was U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando, but his numbers suggest trouble at 10 percent favorable, 22 percent unfavorable and 67 percent not knowing who he is. The "don't recognize" numbers was 86 percent for and 81 percent for two-term U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. The poll also showed 86 percent did not know U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, who has not entered the race.