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Florida Republicans Give Marco Rubio and Rick Scott Good Marks

January 17, 2012 - 6:00pm

Florida Republicans give high marks to freshman U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who rocketed to national prominence following his win over then-Gov. Charlie Crist during the 2010 election cycle, and offered a solid grade for Gov. Rick Scott.

The poll, conducted by Harrisburg, Pa.-based Voter Survey Service (VSS), found that 77 percent of likely Florida Republican presidential primary voters see Rubio as favorable, while only 10 percent see him as unfavorable. Twelve percent of those surveyed have no opinion about Rubio.

Scott did slightly worse than Rubio among Florida Republicans, but remained in solid shape with them. Fifty-nine percent said they approve of the job Scott is performing in Tallahassee while 23 percent said they disapprove of it. Seventeen percent said they are undecided on how Scott is performing. Scott won the Republican gubernatorial nomination after a contentious primary against then-Attorney General Bill McCollum in 2010. While Scott held off Democratic candidate Alex Sink in the general election -- the closest one in the 165 years Florida has been a state -- McCollum refused to endorse Scott after losing to him in the primary.

Jim Lee, president of VSS, stressed to Sunshine State News that Rubio and Scott are being held by Florida Republicans to different standards.

Scotts job is more as a chief executive while Rubio is more of a statesman. This means its unlikely Scotts job approval will ever catch Rubio as long as Rubio remains personally popular, Lee noted.

My own sense is that people evaluate the effectiveness of their governor through the prism of their own economic conditions: are they better or worse off; are they employed, etc.? continued Lee.Unlikely for Rubio -- his personal appeal and leadership style will be more of a factor because its unlikely his voting record will be as closely scrutinized as Scotts and people will not be as willing to blame Rubio for their everyday troubles.

Lee compared the poll numbers to a Sunshine State News Poll taken in July and noted that both Rubio and Scott were doing better with Florida Republicans now than they did in the earlier poll.

Scotts job approval rating is up from 48-34 with GOP voters in July of last year," Lee told Sunshine State News. This shows that he has increased his support somewhat. In comparison to other governors, Scotts numbers are on par with Corbett (Pennsylvania) but not as strong as we have seen for Christie (New Jersey).Rubio, who was 60-16 (favorable/unfavorable) in July of last year, now also shows some improvement (at 77-10).

The poll of 1,266 likely Republican primary voters was taken Jan. 11-14 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.75 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

VSS is the same firm that in 2010 conducted some of the most accurate polls taken of races in the Florida primary and general election. It has conducted hundreds of polls in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Delaware, Maryland, and other states across the nation. It is a leading survey research and political polling firm for GOP candidates for public office and a variety of corporate clients, trade associations, public relations firms and the media.

The work it did in Florida in 2010, commissioned and reported by Sunshine State News, included polls on all races in the primaries and the general election -- some of them taken more than once, as issues and trends through the summer and fall shifted. gave VSS/Sunshine State News a tip of the cap after the primary elections because its poll results, particularly in the surprise gubernatorial race, were nearly "spot on." The election ended with Bill McCollum at 43.5 percent, Rick Scott at 46.5 percent and the spread at plus 2.9 percent. The last VSS/Sunshine poll taken showed McCollum at 42 percent, Scott at 44 percent and the spread at plus 2 percent. No other polling firm came anywhere near Sunshine's result.

Lee has 17 years of polling experience and background as a former lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and as a special projects coordinator for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He has a bachelor of science degree in political science from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., and he's a member of both the American Association of Public Opinion Research and the American Association of Political Consultants.

See the poll's crosstabs in the attachment below.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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