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Scott's approval is up slightly in poll

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 11:47 PM

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's job approval numbers are continuing to edge up, but former Gov. Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, would still edge him out in a race for governor, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey.

Scott's still "upside-down" in job approval in the poll — 51 percent disapprove of his job performance, 39 percent approve. But pollster Dustin Ingalls notes that's up from 51 percent-36 percent disapprove/approve a month earlier, and up from approval ratings in the 20s last year.

In the poll, 56 percent of Democrats think Crist, who left the Republican Party during his 2010 Senate race, should complete his party switch by becoming a Democrat.

In a governor's race matchup between Crist as a Democrat and Scott, Crist won 44 percent to 41 percent with 15 percent undecided, but that margin was less than the poll's 3.3 point error margin.

By a 54 percent to 20 percent margin, respondents had a favorable opinion of Chick-fil-A, the fast-food restaurant caught up in a controversy over its founder's opposition to equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Democrats delighted Scott is RNC speaker

Democrats say they're eager to see Gov. Rick Scott, with his low job approval ratings, speaking at the Republican convention in Tampa.

"After all, who better than Rick 'Toxic' Scott to serve as the face of Florida Republicans while the whole world is watching?" said a news release from Florida Democratic Party executive director Scott Arceneaux. "And with his record of putting the Tea Party and corporate special interests ahead of middle class families, Scott is the perfect spokesman to explain how he shares Mitt Romney's vision for Florida, and our country."

The Democrats cited a recent Quinnipiac University poll in which 52 percent of the respondents disapproved of Scott's job performance and 36 percent approved.

They said Scott and Romney haven't appeared together in what they said were 54 visits to Florida by Romney.

"But with the full glare of the national spotlight on Florida, Mitt Romney will find there will be no escaping the long shadow of the home-state governor's rock bottom approval ratings during the GOP's convention," Arceneaux said.

There's speculation that Scott's message of an improving economy in Florida, for which he claims credit, would contradict the basic thrust of Romney's campaign, which is that the economy is terrible and it's President Barack Obama's fault.

Anti-abortion group plans RNC protest

Toss in one more protest group planning to hit Tampa during the RNC convention — an anti-abortion group that uses graphic billboards of aborted fetuses.

Created Equal says it plans to display billboards, mounted on box trucks, during midday Aug. 24 to 30 in downtown Tampa near the convention site.

It said the billboards will be accompanied by dozens of people carrying signs. "If photographic evidence ... doesn't motivate the pro-life vote, nothing will," said the group's director, Michael Harrington.

Conservative backs Weldon over Mack

Another well-known religious conservative, Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, is backing former Rep. Dave Weldon in the Florida Republican U.S. Senate primary over the primary front-runner, Rep. Connie Mack IV of Fort Myers.

Wildmon is the latest of several such figures to buck the apparent GOP consensus behind Mack as the challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Even some of those conservatives, however, acknowledge it's a stretch to think Weldon, a dark horse who entered the race late, can overcome Mack's well-known name and win the primary.

And Mack has his own conservative backers, including a committee of social/religious conservatives and the American Conservative Union.

Weldon is admired by some conservatives for his hard-line anti-abortion stances in Congress, including opposition to stem-cell research, which Mack favored, and because he left his House seat voluntarily in 2008, after seven terms.

"We don't need more career politicians who will not stand up for conservative, traditional values," Wildmon said in a news release from the Weldon campaign.


wmarch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7761
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