The Republican governor of Florida has closed the gap against his predecessor, Charles J. “Charlie” Crist Jr., according to a Human Events/Gravis poll of 907 of the state’s registered voters taken in the last week of April.
In the November Human Events/Gravis poll of Florida voters, Crist led Gov. Richard L. Scott 46 percent to 36 percent, said Doug Kaplan, the president of Gravis Marketing, a Florida-based polling company that conducted the poll, which carries an error rate of 3 percent.
Although Crist is Scott’s predecessor as a Republican governor, he became a Democrat to run for Senate and is still a Democrat.
“We have Scott at 44 percent and Crist at 43 percent,” Kaplan said. Libertarian A. Adrian Wyllie, who was not included in the November poll, was the choice of 5 percent of voters.
Wyllie said his own internal poll has him at roughly 16 percent of Florida voters.
“What we are seeing is a big spike in people who are re-energized to vote, knowing that they have a third option,” he said.
“The announcement last week that I will be included in the Oct. 15 debate makes a huge difference,” he said.
Wyllie said there will only be one debate and his being on the same stage with Crist and Scott three weeks before the election will, more than anything else, give him the boost he needs to win. “It shows people that this will be a true three-man race for governor.”
The Libertarian said in 2010 he supported Scott, who has let him down personally.
“I spoke to him on the campaign trail and he had me convinced that he was a decent constitutionalist,” he said. “He had me convinced that he would stand up to things like Obamacare, and now we see that he has essentially rolled over on that, he signed Common Care into law, which is the federal takeover of our local schools, he’s been weak on the Second Amendment, he’s raised the budget by $8 billion since he took office—yeah, there is nothing conservative about this guy.”
Kaplan said Scott has the support of 50 percent of whites and the Hispanic support is evenly divided.
“Among ethnic groups, Crist has the support of 84 percent of African-Americans, 87 percent of Asians,” he said.
Among religious groups, Crist is the choice of 82 percent of Florida’s Jewish voters, while Scott is the choice of 64 percent of fundamental Christians and 68 percent of Muslims. Catholics are evenly divided, he said.
Kaplan said the referendum amendment to the Florida constitution that would legalize medical marijuana has the support of 60 percent of the state’s voters, with 32 percent opposed.
“The medical marijuana referendum is just at the required 60 percent,” he said.
“Sixty-two percent of African-Americans and 63 percent of Hispanics support the amendment,” he said. “But only 28 percent of Asians support it,” he said.
Preston Scott, the host of “The Morning Show” on Tallahassee’s WFLA-FM, said that most of the polls he has seen have Crist with a lead anywhere from five to 10 points.
But, Scott personally believes that Scott has earned a second term, he said. “He has done what he said he would do, I find it remarkably refreshing that a candidate would promise to do A-B-C-and-D, and then would go out and do A-B-C-and-D.”
If the governor does lose, it will be because of his chief of staff and press team, he said.
“There has been a remarkable turnover in his executive and administrative staff—even if you look at agency heads, there has been a really high turnover,” he said. “I feel the governor is a good and decent guy, but he puts people in positions they are not equipped for.”
Prior to the arrival of his most recent press staff, the governor was a guest on the program more than 35 times, he said. “Half of those were in studio—it was unprecedented access.”
After the arrival of the new staff, the governor has been on the show once for four minutes, he said.
“Candidly, I have spoken to several people from all over the state of Florida, all would be considered friends of the governor; they have all had the exact same experience with his press staff—negative, all of them,” he said.
The talk show host said because his show is in the state capitol and is the program the politicians, activists, and lobbyists listen to in the morning, not coming on the program is a huge missed opportunity. “If you find a friendlier port in the state of Florida for Rick Scott than my radio program, I want to know what it is.”
Scott Olver, who leads the Orange County Campaign for Liberty, a Tea Party group, said conservatives are angry at the governor, who ran as a Tea Party candidate.
The relationship has soured, he said. “Great engagement, OK honeymoon, and a terrible marriage.”
Conservatives were very disappointed that the governor supported, instead of closing down, the SunRail project, a rail service project now running through central Florida, he said.
“SunRail has something like 240 paid lobbyists on their dole in Tallahassee,” he said. “Their own projections are only 4,000 riders per day or 1 in 300 local residents.”
The other issue in Common Core, the federal education reform that standardizes tests and curriculums, he said.
Olver said in 2010, Scott had an energized Tea Party, spent millions of his own money and barely won by 50,000 votes against A. Alex Sink. “This time, we’ll see.”