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Survey: Bill Nelson’s approval best among senators running in swing states

While Florida polls have shown head-to-head match-ups with Gov. Rick Scott appear tight for the 2018 election, Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson may find re-election confidence in a survey released Wednesday by Morning Consult that shows he’s got the best net-approval ratings of any senator running in a swing state this year.

The survey, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2017, was summarized in Morning Consult’s piece “America’s Most and Least Popular Senators” finding that Nelson has a 51 percent approval rating in Florida, and a 26 percent disapproval rating, meaning a net approval of 25 points, by far the best of any senator up for re-election this year in a tight state.

The article, published late Tuesday, also noted that compared with last year Nelson has lost only two points on his net approval by the fourth quarter, a better year than 10 of the other 11 senators running this year for vulnerable seats. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, had no net change, but retained only a nine-point net approval. All the others lost at least four points on their approvals. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, had the next-best approval rating among the vulnerable, an 18-point spread between Buckeye voters who approve and those who don’t.

Ten of the eleven senators highlighted for seeking re-election in what Morning Consult defined as swing states are Democrats.

Morning Consult reported it surveyed 253,393 registered U.S. voters from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017. Margins of error varied depending upon the states; Morning Consult reported a margin of error of just 1 percent for its ratings of Florida’s senators.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio got an approval rating of 47 percent and a disapproval rating of 37 percent.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, was the most-popular back home, with a 68 percent approval and just 24 percent disapproval. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was the least-popular with 32 percent of Bluegrass voters approving, and 53 percent disapproving.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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