Scott Nelson

It’s a battle of polling data on the first day of early voting. 

A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows trouble for Governor Rick Scott’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He trails Senator Bill Nelson 52-46 among likely voters. Those numbers are nearly unchanged from the last Quinnipiac poll in September and shows Governor Scott received no bump post-Hurricane Michael, despite him leaving the campaign trail to focus on recovery in the Panhandle. 

Even more troubling, the new poll uses a +3 Republican turnout model, though voters were asked to self identify during the telephone survey. Both Scott and Nelson have solidified their respective bases, but Nelson is the overwhelming favorite among independent voters by 38%, 68-30.

“At this point, Sen. Nelson’s six-point overall lead is built on his large margin among independent voters, 60 – 38 percent,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.  “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.”

In response, Scott’s campaign released an internal poll conducting by OnMessage Inc. It shows Scott with a five point lead over Nelson, 51-46. The poll projects a +1 Republican turnout, down from the +3 GOP turnout during the 2014 midterm. Scott’s internal poll contacted 2200 likely voters between October 14-18. 

If the Quinnipiac poll is an accurate reflection among the Florida electorate, it will be a difficult hurdle to overcome just 15 days before the general election. Rick Scott has been in this position before, trailing in the polls right before an election only to spend millions of his personal fortune saturating the airwaves with his campaign commercials.  He’s already spent $39 million of his own money in the campaign for the Senate. Monday’s survey is likely to force Gov. Scott to open up his checkbook once again with just two weeks to go.