U.S Sen. Bill Nelson, Gov. Rick Scott In Tight Race For 2018 Senate Seat, Poll Shows
By Kevin Darby, Sunshine State News // October 24, 2017
UNF Poll: Nelson at 37%; Scott 36%
(SUNSHINE STATE NEWS) – With a year out until the 2018 elections, U.S Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is in a dead heat with Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to challenge him next year in what is expected to be one of the top Senate races in the nation.
The University of North Florida (UNF) released a new poll on Tuesday morning showing Nelson taking 37 percent with Scott right behind him at 36 percent while 7 percent back other candidates and 20 percent are not sure.
Back in February, UNF released a poll showing Nelson up 44 percent to 38 percent.
“Like most statewide races in Florida, the senate race between Nelson and Scott is going to be too close to call all the way until Election Day,” said Michael Binder, the faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF.
Both candidates have nailed down the party base as Nelson takes 66 percent of Democrats and Scott pulls in 68 percent of Republicans. Nelson has a slight lead with voters outside the major parties getting 32 percent of them while 28 percent back Scott but 31 percent of them remain undecided and 9 percent prefer other candidates.
Scott gets good marks in the poll with 59 percent of voters approving of him while 28 percent disapprove of him. Nelson is above water as well with 35 percent of voters approving of him and 15 percent disapproving of him but a whopping 49 percent are not sure of what they think about Florida’s senior senator who was first elected to the Senate back in 2000 and who has been on the political stage for more than four decades.
Binder said this should concern Democrats in the Sunshine State.
“The one major concern for Democrats has to be the public’s lack of awareness of Nelson,” Binder said.
“When a three-term sitting U.S. senator has almost half of the sample unable to assess his job approval, you have a problem.”
Despite carrying Florida in 2016, President Donald Trump is upside down in the Sunshine State with 59 percent of voters disapproving of him while 37 percent of them approve of him. Democrats are united against Trump with 92 percent of them disapproving of him. Most Republicans in Florida–73 percent–approve of Trump but 26 percent disapprove of him. Voters outside the major parties break against Trump with 63 percent disapproving of him while a third–33 percent–approve of him.
“Donald Trump is just as divisive in Florida as he is across the rest of the country, but as long as he maintains support from Republicans, I wouldn’t expect any major changes in his administration,” Binder said.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is keeping his neck above water in Florida with 42 percent of voters approving of him while 37 percent disapprove and 20 percent are not sure.
The poll of 838 registered voters in Florida was taken from Oct. 11 through Oct. 17 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.39 percent.
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