Contrary to two other polls released earlier this week, a new survey from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economic Polling Initiative gives Gov. Rick Scott a 10-point lead over Bill Nelson in a hypothetical contest for Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat.
Although Scott has not officially declared his candidacy, the latest poll pegs the race at 44 to 34 percent, with 22 percent of voters undecided. That’s a dramatic change from FAU’s August 2017 poll that had Scott trailing Nelson 42 to 40 percent.
Fueling Scott’s impressive numbers is a favorable rating that now stands at 52 percent. Meanwhile, Nelson has seen his numbers go in the opposite direction, with his favorable rating dipping from 45 to 40 percent, while his unfavorable number jumped from 22 to 27 percent.
“(W)ith 22 percent of voters saying they’re undecided, there’s still plenty of opportunity for Nelson to turn things around,” said Monica Escaleras, Ph.D., director of the BEPI.
Undoubtedly, there will be those who label this poll as an outlier. They’re probably not wrong. After all Scott +10 stands in stark contrast to a Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey which had Nelson with a one-point lead over Scott, 45-44 percent. The FAU poll is also dramatically different from a University of North Florida poll that showed Nelson leading Scott 48-42 percent.
But, looking at the methodology of the FAU poll, there’s nothing glaringly wrong with it. It is an automated (robo) poll, but that wouldn’t account for Scott’s sizable lead. The party affiliation numbers check out, while the poll puts Donald Trump‘s job approval rating (41% approve/44% disapprove) at a level that does not suggest a Republican bias.
The way the poll asks about the gubernatorial race is odd — lumping the Democratic and Republican candidates all together; including John Morgan in the mix even though he has said he is not running — but that wouldn’t impact the Scott vs. Nelson numbers.
Even if this poll is off by its margin of error of four points, that still gives Scott his first lead over Nelson in a 2018 public poll. That should be enough to set off the alarm bells at Nelson’s campaign headquarters.