A new poll shows Gov. Rick Scott with a slight edge on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., as Floridians gets ready for what is expected to be a high profile and tight Senate race next year.
St. Leo University released a poll on Friday showing Scott pulling 35 percent with Nelson right behind him at 33 percent. But, with more than a year until the general election, 21 percent of voters are undecided while 11 percent back other candidates.
Most polls have shown a close race between two candidates who are familiar to Florida voters. Scott is closing out his second term in Tallahassee while Nelson is at the end of his third term in the Senate. Earlier this week, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll which showed Scott taking 47 percent with Nelson pulling 45 percent.
The St. Leo poll has Scott moving in the right direction. Back in March, Nelson had a 39 percent to 34 percent over the Republican governor. In March, Scott was seen as favorable by 56 percent of voters and unfavorable by 39 percent of them. In the new poll, 62 percent of those surveyed see Scott in a favorable light while 30 percent view him unfavorably.
The poll finds Scott has a strong grasp on the Republican nomination. More than half of Florida Republicans surveyed--51 percent--are for Scott while 28 percent are undecided. Potential candidate U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., gets 8 percent while former attorney and Libertarian Senate hopeful Augustus Invictus, who spoke at white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia back in August, takes 6 percent. Tax preparer Marcia Thorne pulls 2 percent.
Frank Orlando, the director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and a political scientist professor at that Pasco County university, said Scott was benefiting from his performance during Hurricane Irma earlier this month.
“It seems as though voters are giving Rick Scott good grades for his leadership during Hurricane Irma,” Orlando said on Friday. “Every corner of the state was affected, and this type of crisis can produce a sort of rally-around-the-flag effect for the executive when handled well.”
The poll of 500 Florida residents was taken from Sept. 10-Sept. 16 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.