“There’s a lot higher awareness of Rick Scott. He’s got much higher name recognition.”
A new poll from CBS News has Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) with a lead over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, 46% to 41%. If this sticks, it’ll be a huge loss for Democrats in a swing state.
The five point margin is the largest Scott has held over Nelson since the governor announced his decision to run for the senate.
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) June 24, 2018
It helps that “[M]ost Florida voters like the job Scott is doing as governor” since he has a 61% approval rating with the registered voters. He has also gained the support of many independents and members of his own party approve of him. A third of Democrats in Florida also approve of Scott.
Scott may also received the boost since the poll found that 52% of the people in Florida approve of President Donald Trump.
RealClearPolitics has Scott with a +0.8 lead and still considers the race a tossup. The website explained that that the state’s Democratic voter registration went down 72% to 43% between 1970 and 2000.
Nelson has frustrated his Democratic colleagues because he has said over and over that “he’s not fazed by Rick Scott’s campaign.” Nelson’s campaign hasn’t hit the airwaves yet, but Scott has gone all in. From USA Today:
So far, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has out-spent, out-campaigned and out-muscled Nelson in a nationally watched race that could decide who controls the Senate next year.
Scott’s ads have been blanketing the Florida airwaves for weeks and a new one starts Tuesday. The governor’s also been traversing the state, attempting to define an 18-year incumbent who remains a relative unknown among a significant slice of the state electorate.
Despite Nelson’s three-term Senate career, Politico wrote that he has little name recognition:
“There’s a lot higher awareness of Rick Scott. He’s got much higher name recognition. And people associate him with trying to do something for Puerto Rico,” said Marcos Vilar, director for United for Progress PAC, which had the focus groups conducted for it by the polling firm Latino Decisions.
“Bill Nelson has very little name recognition,” Vilar said. “The people who know him don’t know what he’s done. They don’t know him in the community. They don’t see him out to the community as much.”
Party insiders and Latino activists — in Washington, Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee — fret that it’s a serious problem against Scott, who is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars out of his own pocket to knock off Nelson. They say the two-term Republican governor is running a robust campaign that’s “pandering” to Hispanics but drowning out Nelson’s support of issues important to the community — from his clear support for comprehensive immigration reform to advocacy for Medicaid expansion to criticizing the Trump administration’s underwhelming response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
CBS News noted that Scott and Nelson “are effectively tied among Hispanics,” which is a huge group in Florida. This may change, though, because Scott has a campaign web page in Spanish and sent out ads in Spanish. He has also started to learn the language and accepted interviews with the Spanish-language media in Florida:
“I haven’t really seen that much activity as far as being open to the media from Nelson. And as far as the same intensity as Governor Scott, I don’t see it from Nelson,” said Rene Pedrosa, a Miami-based reporter for América TeVé and a commentator for Caracol Radio.
Pedrosa notes that Scott on Monday held a Colombian outreach event in Coral Gables at a coffee shop right next to the Colombian consulate on the first day of absentee early voting for that nation’s presidential election. At least 87,000 Colombia natives are on Florida’s voter rolls, the second-highest number of Latin American foreign-born Florida voters behind the 325,000 Cubans, said University of Florida political science professor Daniel A. Smith who has studied Florida’s immigrant voters. Smith said the total number of voters of Cuban and Colombian descent is far higher.
Nelson has not done any of that.
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