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POLITICS: Campaigns

Charlie Crist blows 12-point lead over Florida Gov. Rick Scott: Poll

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Florida,Polls,2014 Elections,Campaigns,Rick Scott,Charlie Crist,Becket Adams

Noted party-jumper Charlie Crist has blown a 12-point lead over Florida's incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott, narrowing the state's gubernatorial race to a dead heat, according to the Democratic-leaning survey firm Public Policy Polling.

As recently as last fall, Crist led the Republican incumbent in the polls 58 percent to 38 percent.

But it appears that an aggressive campaign by Scott, who has in recent years fallen into disfavor with voters in the Sunshine State, has helped erase the Republican-turned-Democrat's lead.

Now, this isn't to say that Scott has surged in popularity with voters. In fact, he still polls poorly in the state. Nearly 39 percent of registered voters surveyed by PPP say that Scott is doing a good job, while 48 percent disapprove of his handling of the office of the governor. Of course, this is a slight improvement over last September when only 33 percent of surveyed voters said Scott was doing a good job.

And while Scott's approval rating have seen a slight uptick, Crist's has dropped precipitously.

Only 32 percent of PPP survey respondents say they have a positive view of Crist, down from last fall's 43 percent. Meanwhile, 48 percent say they disapprove of the gubernatorial candidate, which is a 6 percent increase from September 2013.

Crist has, however, managed to hold on to support from Florida Democrats, his approval rating with that demographic nearly unchanged from when they were last tested by PPP in the fall. However, what little support Crist enjoyed from Florida Republicans has all but disappeared. Just last year, according to PPP, 25 percent of respondents who self-identified as Republicans held a positive view of Crist, while 65 percent held a negative opinion. That has since changed to show that only 16 percent of Florida Republicans hold a favorable view of Crist while 75 percent disapprove.

And as for self-identified independent voters: Crist's approval approval rating clocks in at about 24 percent. Forty-nine percent of voters in this category view him unfavorably.

But there may be a silver lining for the Florida Democrat: Sixteen percent of undecided voters are not at all happy with Scott.

In fact, the Republican governor has an approval rating of only 23 percent with undecided voters, while a much larger 51 percent disapprove of him.

“The undecideds also skew female, Hispanic, and younger and they voted for Barack Obama 43/39 in 2012,” PPP reported. “Even though Crist's support has been knocked down, Scott still hasn't been able to build his up below the low 40s. It's a toss up but there are at least a few things that could go Crist's way.”

Lastly, here's something else to consider: Even if Crist has managed to lose his healthy lead over Scott, Real Clear Politics, which averages the results of the nation's leading polls, currently shows the Democratic candidate leading in Florida, 43.3 percent to 41.3 percent. So Scott obviously has some lost ground that he needs to make up if he doesn't want to hand the office to Democrats.

The PPP survey on Florida's gubernatorial race was conducted from June 6-9 and was done via telephone and the Internet. The poll surveyed 672 registered voters and contains a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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