Rick Scott holds the lead in his race against sitting Senator Bill Nelson while Adam Putnam has the advantage over Ron DeSantis in the hunt for the Republican gubernatorial nomination according to a new poll released on Tuesday.
The online survey of 506 Florida voters showed Scott holding a five percent lead, with 39.5 percent of respondents supporting the current governor while 34.4 percent supported Nelson. The poll contains a 4.5 percent margin of error. Almost 18 percent of those questioned remained undecided, up from 14.6 from a previous survey conducted in February.
“Governor Scott has consistently held an advantage over Senator Nelson in our polling, so the concern from Democrats nationally about losing in Florida is justified,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “The hope among Democrats is that President Donald Trump’s lack of popularity will drag Scott down. The issue is that Trump’s approval has been in the mid to upper-40s in Florida for a while. If that rating doesn’t drop, it’s probably not enough to drag Scott down.”
Voters were also asked if they approved of Scott’s job performance as governor. Respondents were mostly positive, with 58.5 percent saying their opinion was favorable or somewhat favorable, while 33.4 said their view of Scott’s job performance was negative. There were 8.1 percent of voters that remained unsure.
When it comes to the Republican nomination for the gubernatorial race, Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam opened up a wide lead over Congressman Ron DeSantis with 34.5 percent of respondents supporting the commissioner compared to 12.6 percent supporting the congressman. Putnam more than doubled his support in from 15.4 percent in February while DeSantis lost about a point. The congressman initially enjoyed increased notoriety after an endorsement from President Trump and multiple appearances on major cable networks, but Orlando said that may not be enough.
“While a lot of voters remain undecided, Adam Putnam seems to be gaining momentum. He has been in the news a lot lately, but the race is his to lose. DeSantis hasn’t been able to turn this race into the 2016 primary in the state where he plays the role of Donald Trump and Putnam is in the Marco Rubio role,” Orlando said. “DeSantis has ground to make up in the next few months.”
Some Democrats have been calling for Putnam to step down from the race after reports surfaced last week that one of the three background checks that are usually applied to Floridians seeking a concealed weapons license was not being run because an employee of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was unable to log into the FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The employee in question was fired and the impact of the breach in procedure was “thoroughly reviewed” accord to Putnam’s office.
In the Democratic primary, former congresswoman Gwen Graham and former Palm Beach Mayor Philip Levine were tied for the lead with 14.4 percent of the support from those Democrats that were questioned, while Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King stood at 9.7 percent and 5.6 percent respectively.
“The Democratic race is still very open,” Orlando commented. “Gwen Graham continues to rack up establishment support, such as the endorsement of the Florida Education Association last week. She is still being outspent by the Levine campaign. It remains to be seen whether his money will allow him to gain a foothold outside of his native South Florida.”
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