TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Three out of five Florida voters say they favor Gov. Rick Scott’s effort to purge potential non-citizens from the state’s voter rolls, but they’re still not sold on the governor himself, a new poll shows.
The survey of 1,697 Florida voters by Quinnipiac (Conn.) University showed 60 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed to the governor’s attempts. Five percent didn’t have an opinion. The margin of error in a snapshot of voters’ views taken between June 12 and June 18 was plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
“Gov. Scott may be a lot less popular in Florida these days than President Barack Obama, but on the face-off between the two on the purge issue, Floridians seem to be solidly in Scott’s corner,” pollster Peter Brown said Wednesday. “Whether this voter purge becomes a big deal issue in the campaign or not is not clear at this point.”
A similar majority, 56 percent, also supported the state’s “stand your ground” law that allows citizens to defend themselves with deadly force if they feel threatened. Thirty-seven percent said they oppose the law.
There was a significant partisan and racial division on both issues in the poll released Wednesday.
Republicans back the effort to search out possible illegal voters by 90 percent to 8 percent while Democrats are opposed by a 60 percent to 33 percent. Independents also support the governor on the issue by 59 percent to 37 percent. White voters (67 percent to 29 percent) and Hispanics (49 percent to 42 percent) supported the purging effort compared to black voters, who opposed it by 56 percent to 38 percent.
Republicans also were strongly behind the so-called “stand your ground” law, 81 percent to 12 percent. Democrats were opposed by a 2-to-1 margin and independents favored the measure by 55 percent to 39 percent.
Scott’s popularity, however, still lags with 39 percent of the respondents who said they approved of his performance as governor compared to 49 percent to disapprove.
“He still is having trouble getting his footing,” Brown said, noting that even Republicans have been slow to embrace the new governor. “There’s something with Scott that doesn’t fit well. It may be that it appears to people he’s not Mr. Personality.”
Brown pointed out that formers Republican governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist were hugely popular within the party, although Crist’s standing with GOP voters plunged after he left the GOP to run an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate as an independent.
But Scott fares better than the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature. Fewer than a third of respondents thought Florida lawmakers were doing a good job while exactly his approved of their performance.
U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Melbourne, and Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, were each seen favorably by voters.
Nelson, who is seeking a third term this fall, was rated favorably by 47 percent while 32 percent disapproved. Rubio was ranked favorably by 51 percent compared to 31 percent unfavorable.
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