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Hard-Charging Rick Scott Looking Strong in GOP Gubernatorial Race

June 8, 2010 - 6:00pm

Two polls released Wednesday on the Florida gubernatorial race show that health care executive Rick Scott is now posting larger numbers than fellow Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum against state CFO Alex Sink, the leading Democrat running for governor.

And despite entering the race last week, according to a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, independent candidate Bud Chiles is already polling in double digits.

The governors race was close even before Chiles entered it, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. But now, its a whole new and even closer ballgame. The dynamics of a three-way race will force the Republican and Democratic candidates to reconsider their strategies.

The Quinnipiac poll found that Scott, with the backing of 81 percent of Republicans, led Sink 42-32. McCollum, backed by 77 percent of Republicans, led Sink 42-34.

Quinnipianc's results were confirmed in a poll taken by Rasmussen Reports. Forty-five percent of the voters sampled backed Scott compared to Sinks 40 percent. McCollum, who had led Sink 43 percent to 35 percent in a Rasmussen poll in May, was ahead of the Democrat 40 to 38 percent in a June 7 poll.

According to Quinnipiac, Scott outpolled McCollum with the Republican base. McCollum polled 50 percent favorable with Republicans as opposed to 22 percent unfavorable. Scott polled 54 percent favorable with Republicans as opposed to 12 percent unfavorable.

The Quinnipiac poll included new candidate Bud Chiles. Drawing more than 20 percent of independents with either Scott or McCollum as the Republican nominee, Chiles made an impressive debut in the polls. The son of legendary former U.S. senator and governor Lawton Chiles, pulled 13 percent against Scotts 35 percent and Sinks 26 percent. The independent candidate did even better when McCollum was listed as the GOP nominee. Chiles pulled 19 percent against McCollums 33 percent and Sinks 25 percent.

"Im proud that the Chiles name still resonates among Floridians, said Chiles in a statement. My father taught me to keep faith with the people and put their interests ahead of the special interests. I believe Floridians are ready for that brand of leadership once again.

Floridians still don't know much about the candidates. According to the Quinnipiac poll, McCollum pulled 37 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable and 32 percent have not heard enough about him to decide. Sink stood at 28 percent favorable, 14 percent unfavorable with 56 percent undecided. Scott was at 31 percent favorable, 22 percent unfavorable and 46 percent undecided.

Chiles, the newest candidate, is the greatest unknown. The independent pulled 10 percent favorable, 7 percent unfavorable and 81 percent of Floridians did not know enough about him to have an opinion.

Ms. Sink remains relatively unknown after four years as Floridas chief financial officer, said Brown. Scott, a political unknown until his multi-million-dollar TV ad buys, is actually better know than she at this point.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,133 Floridians. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent. Quinnipiac asked the question with Chiles included to 435 Floridians and had a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent.

Rasmussen surveyed 500 Floridians and their poll has a margin of error of +/-4.5 percent.

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

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