Sen. Bill Nelson, drawing much higher favorability ratings and strong support from independents–key to all statewide races in Florida–is maintaining a comfortable 52-46 percent advantage over Gov. Rick Scott in the race for U.S. Senate, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.
The poll was conducted after Hurricane Michael swept through the Florida Panhandle. Before the storm, Scott was trailing Nelson 46 to 53 percent. Scott played an especially visible role during the storm in hopes of translating the extra PR into better polling numbers. The electoral strategy appears to have had no effect, with only 2 percent of Florida likely voters still undecided and 4 percent of those who name a candidate saying they might change their mind in the next 15 days.
Nelson is winning the key independent vote 60-38 and women 59-39. He has a favorability rating of 51-41, compared to Scott’s favorability of 45. His unfavorability rating is at 50.
“The Florida race is one of a handful of contests around the country that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott have spent so many millions of dollars on television ads it is almost impossible to avoid seeing them,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “At this point, Sen. Nelson’s six-point overall lead is built on his large margin among independent voters, 60 – 38 percent. If that margin holds up, the senator will be difficult to beat. Moreover, Sen. Nelson’s 20-point advantage among women is twice Gov. Scott’s 10-point edge among men.”
The Quinnipiac Poll is among the better regarded in the field, garnering an A minus from FiveThirtyEight. Four of five polls have shown Nelson ahead since the end of September, with just one poll showing Scott ahead (by one point) and the Real Clear Politics average placing nelson 2.4 points ahead of Scott. Scott, however, is well known for unleashing a surge of spending late in his races, as he’s done in his two races for governor, winning each by a single point. Still, both his gubernatorial races were against less well-known opponents. He’s never faced a well-liked incumbent. Nelson is completing his third term.
In addition to independents and women, Nelson is drawing strength from black and Hispanic voters. Nelson leads 94-3 percent among black voters and 59-39 percent among Hispanic voter.
“Nelson is just better liked. Florida likely voters view him favorably by 10 percentage points, and see Gov. Scott unfavorably by five points,” Brown said.
Florida likely voters give President Donald Trump a negative 46-51 percent job approval rating, compared to a negative 44-54 percent job approval rating September 25.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,161 Florida likely voters From Oct. 17-21, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, including the design effect.