Poll: Gov. Rick Scott’s Unpopularity Handicapping GOP Pres Candidates In Florida

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A plurality of Florida voters say they are less inclined to support a Republican presidential candidate in 2012 because of the way their freshman GOP governor has acted since taking office, according to a PPP poll to be released Friday morning.

In the survey, 40% of registered voters said Gov. Rick Scott’s actions have made them less inclined to back the GOP presidential nominee next year, versus 26% who said his actions had made it more likely they’d vote Republican in 2012. An additional 34% said Scott has had no impact on whether or not they’ll support a Republican candidate.

A key finding within those results is that almost one in five (18%) of respondents who said they disapproved of President Obama’s job performance said they were still shying away from supporting a Republican alternative because of their dissatisfaction with Scott. Further, 45% of all independent voters said they were less inclined to vote for the GOP nominee after seeing Scott’s policies in action, versus only 18% who said Scott had made them more keen to vote against Obama next year.As TPM reported in May, previous polls had shown a correlation between plummeting approval ratings for Scott and other first-term Republican governors, and simultaneous boosts to President Obama’s standing in tests of hypothetical 2012 matches. This is the first poll to fill in that gap and show a direct link between Scott’s deep unpopularity and voters’ hesitancy to get behind the Republican presidential aspirants.

“In a state that’s always decided by two or three points, Scott’s unpopularity could really make the difference in tipping the state to Obama,” Director of Public Policy Polling Tom Jensen wrote to TPM.

“That’s why these new Republican Governors have been so good for Obama — they’re reminding swing state voters why they put the GOP out of power in 2006 and 2008,” he added.

Scott’s approval rating tanked shortly after he took office and imposed sweeping changes to teachers’ benefits, including a backdoor pay cut that prompted the state’s largest teachers union to file suit, alleging the changes were an unconstitutional infringement on existing contracts. And last month, Scott signed a budget that slashes around $4 billion, including $1.35 billion from education spending, and $1 billion from Medicaid.

As a result, one poll showed Scott — who won the election last year by just a 1% margin — losing a do-over contest by a massive 20 point gap.

In the latest PPP survey, 59% of registered voters said they disapprove of Scott’s job performance, versus just 33% who said they approved. According to the TPM Poll Average, 59.4% of Floridians disapprove of sCott’s job performance, compared to 32.4% who approve of it.

Florida, a perennial swing state in presidential elections, is a huge prize given its hefty haul of electoral votes. As a result of the 2010 census, Florida will gain two House seats come 2012, giving it a total of 29 electoral votes for the next election cycle.

The PPP poll was conducted June 16-19 among 848 registered voters. It has a 3.4% margin of error.

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