Living and dying by the polls

400-PETER-A-BROWN-QUINNIPIAHearing poll results taken after the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, Bill Cotterell reported for the Florida Current that Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Republican Party need to raise doubts about the sincerity of ex-Governor Charlie Crist and his change of parties if they are to hold off his expected challenge in next year’s campaign.

Historic City News reviewed the survey released yesterday by Quinnipiac University; indicating that only 32 percent of all voters think Scott deserves a second term — and only 28 percent of independents support him.

“There isn’t much good news in these numbers for Governor Rick Scott, but there is some,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said at a news conference yesterday before the Florida Press Association in Tallahassee. Brown said Scott probably doesn’t have to worry about a GOP primary challenge next year — and that, if he gets one, he will probably be re-nominated, as things stand.

In a hypothetical Scott-Crist match-up, if the election were held today, the survey revealed that the incumbent governor would lose to his predecessor by 16 points. The poll indicated Scott’s job approval rating at 36 percent — far below the 49 percent polled who expressed a negative opinion of his work as governor.

“We see a lot of good things happening in Florida and the party just has to push the message about job creation,” said Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry. “Remember, Charlie Crist had through-the-roof approval ratings as governor, right before he lost his race for the US Senate.”

Crist has not formally announced his candidacy; however, he has spent the last month visiting county Democratic groups. He told reporters yesterday that it was gratifying that half of voters in the poll accepted his party switch, from Republican, to independent, to Democrat. “Floridians are a very thoughtful group of people and I think they understand what’s happened to the political parties of late.”

The poll also showed strong public support for Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” gun law; which has become controversial since the fatal shooting of Sanford teenager Trayvon Martin last year. Stand Your Ground is the 2005 law that removed the requirement that people retreat and seek safety, if possible, rather than using force, including weapons, in a dangerous situation.

Republicans, independents, and men approved of Stand Your Ground by large margins — while Democrats and blacks were solidly against it. Women approved of the statute, but by a smaller margin than men did. Overall statewide, the polling found public approval of the “Stand Your Ground” law with 56 percent “for” — 36 percent “against”.

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