UNF Pollster: Too Early To Draw Conclusions About Possible Scott Senate Bid

Mar 6, 2017

From left to right: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R)
Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A new University of North Florida poll could spell trouble for one potential Republican candidate next year.

But UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory Director Mike Binder is cautioning against reading too much into the data more than a year away from the 2018 midterm elections


Though he hasn't officially announced his candidacy, it’s widely believed Florida Governor Rick Scott will try to make the leap from the Florida governor’s mansion to the U.S. Senate in 2018.

He’ll have to go through sitting Democratic Senator Bill Nelson first and if UNF’s early polling is any indication, it could be a steep hill to climb.

Not only is Scott down by six percentage points in the hypothetical matchup, but Nelson’s approval rating far outweighs his negatives — 42 percent of respondents approve of Nelson’s job, while only 28 percent do not.

Still, Binder said nearly 30 percent don't have an opinion on the former astronaut and November, 2018 is still very far away

“We’ve seen what Rick Scott can do from an underdog position when he runs in a statewide race. So, I would not at all consider this the final bell on what’s going to happen in 2018,” he said.

Binder said he only polled registered voters — an important distinction.

“We’re not looking at likely voters. So, all of these folks are just registered. They may not ever vote in midterm elections,” he said.

Binder added that Florida has had a slight Democratic voter registration advantage for years, but still has a Republican state government precisely because registered Democrats don't necessarily translate to active voters.

The poll also found a plurality of voters disapprove of Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and a majority of Floridians oppose President Donald Trump’s original travel ban and disagree transgender people are threats to children.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.