Nelson holds lead over Scott in two new polls, although it’s a very slim lead in one of the surveys

by | Feb 7, 2018

Two new polls give Sen. Bill Nelson an edge over Gov. Rick Scott in the race for the U.S. Senate, one of those polls shows a slim lead for Nelson.

The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida latest survey shows Nelson holding a 48-42 percent lead over his likely opponent, Gov. Rick Scott. Scott has yet to officially announce, although he’s expected to following this year’s legislative session. Seven percent of the registered voters surveyed were undecided.

The poll shows some improvement in Nelson’s numbers over the last survey conducted by the  Public Opinion Research Lab in October in which Nelson held a slim 37-36 percent margin over Scott.

Meanwhile, a new Mason-Dixon poll released Wednesday morning shows the contest between Nelson and Scott is virtually a tie with Nelson holding a 45-44 percent lead. In October, the same poll had both men in a dead heat  tied at 44 percent.

As for approval ratings, the UNF survey shows 52 percent of registered voters claim to somewhat or strongly approve of Nelson’s job performance, with only 20 percent somewhat or strongly disapproving. However, 26 percent of voters expressed they don’t know how Nelson is handling his job. When asked about Scott’s performance as governor, 63 percent reported to strongly or somewhat approve, with 31  percent disapproving either somewhat or strongly.

Both senate candidates have net positive job approval ratings of 32 percentage points,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. “This high level of job approval is very unusual and is going to lead to a hotly contested election.”

The poll also asked registered voters who they would vote for regarding the U.S. House of Representatives if the election were held today. The survey showed 42 percent of likely voters indicated they would vote for the Democratic candidate, 40 percent would plan to vote for the Republican candidate and 14 percent didn’t know.

“Even though it appears Nelson has a reasonable lead in the poll, the election results will ultimately get determined by who shows up in November,” said Binder. “Historically, Republicans have enjoyed a turnout advantage in midterms, but with the current mood of the country, and a large number of Republican retirements, Democrats are optimistic about an impending blue wave.”

Florida’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Marco Rubio, received high performance ratings among those voters surveyed. When asked how Rubio is handling his job, 55 percent strongly or somewhat approve, compared to the 35 percent who reported to somewhat or strongly disapprove. Rubio is not up for reelection this year.

President Trump’s approval ratings, although still considered to be low for a sitting president, showed a bounce from the poll’s last survey in October. Forty-three percent of the voters surveyed strongly or somewhat approve of how he’s handling his job, with 53 percent disapproving somewhat or strongly. That’s a six percent jump his approval ratings since October.

Whether voters approve or disapprove of Trump’s job performance depended on which party they are affiliated with. A large amount of registered Democrats—87 percent—disapprove of Trump, while only 16 percent of registered Republicans disapprove. On the opposite side,Trump held 81 percent job approval among registered Republicans, compared to 40 percent approval among nonpartisans and a dismal 10 percent job approval among registered Democrats.

The Florida Statewide Poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF Monday, January 29, through Sunday, February 4, by live callers via the telephone.

The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 3.9 percentage points.The margin of error for likely voters in the November 2018 midterm election is +/- 4.7 percentage points.


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