TALLAHASSEE — Nothing better in the dog days of summer than a good poll and Quinnipiac University didn’t disappoint this week as it released data on how Floridians feel about their president, their governor and the recent debt ceiling drama.
Gov. Rick Scott’s once-sinkhole approval rating has ticked up slightly, moving from 29 percent in May to 35 percent in the university’s most recent poll on the subject released Friday.
Scott’s popularity push came even before the governor donned an apron to fry doughnuts in Tampa last week as he returned to his deep-fried roots on his first “work day.”
The event, which takes a page from former Gov. Bob Graham’s playbook, appears part of a larger effort to make Scott more likeable, a push that includes more casual attire and more frequent visits with the capitol press corps and the state’s newspapers.
“Gov. Scott still has a long hike to parity in voter approval, but he has begun the trek,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the university’s polling institute. “Whether it is the beginning of a serious move or just a blip, time will tell.”
Despite the improved numbers, voters still find the governor’s policies unlikable, with 54 percent saying they don’t approve compared to 34 percent who say they do. The governor could easily say he’s misunderstood. A full 57 percent say they don’t know whether the state budget signed by the governor raises taxes, while 19 percent incorrectly believe it does.
While Scott’s number are moving up, Obama’s looked more like the New York Stock Exchange this week. The president’s approval rating among Florida voters has fallen since May, especially among independents who tip the balance in the key swing state.
Overall, Obama’s approval rating fell from 51 percent in May to 44 percent earlier this week. The president’s biggest drop-off was among independent voters, whose 61 percent May approval rating dropped to 47 percent.
Despite his drop in the polls, Obama’s handling of the recent debt ceiling talks was viewed more favorably by voters, who gave the president higher marks than congressional leaders involved in negotiations that ended with a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling in exchange for at least $2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years.
Obama also got some help Friday as the national unemployment rate in July dipped 0.1 percentage points to 9.1 percent, but that good news was offset by Standard & Poor’s announcement knocking down the U.S. credit rating from its AAA pedestal.
While voters have a pretty good bead on Scott and Obama, more than half of Republicans polled are undecided about the state’s U.S. Senate primary. Retired Army Col. Mike McCalister is the frontrunner, favored by 15 percent of those polled.
McCalister is followed by former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, expected by many to lead the pack after Senate President Mike Haridopolos dropped out of the race. LeMieux only polled 12 percent. Former state legislator Adam Hasner has the steepest climb. He is holding up the Republican rear at 6 percent.
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