When Governor Rick Scott flies to Florida with President Trump on Air Force One Tuesday, he’ll do so as the frontrunner in the race for the United States Senate. A new Mason-Dixon poll shows Scott leads incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson 47%-44%. The lead is within the polls 4% margin of error but shows Scott has taken a lead since the last time Mason-Dixon surveyed the race in February.
According to the Mason-Dixon findings, “The overall trend line is running in Scott’s favor, as his support has slowly but steadily increased over the last 17 months, while Nelson’s has remained static.”
Polls have consistently showed the race tight. The Real Clear Politics poll of polls show Scott with a 1.2% lead, although Scott leads in 4 of the 6 surveys released since May.
The three-term incumbent Senator, who’s been on statewide ballots since the 1990s, is in the political fight of his life. Gov. Scott has raised more money, is personally more popular than Nelson, and has made inroads in a needed Democratic voting bloc – Hispanics.
The new poll shows Scott’s approval rating at 44% to Nelson’s 36%. Two other key factors in the polls: Scott leads with independents 47%-43% while Nelson leads with Hispanics 44%-39%.
A likely factor in Scott’s lead is outspending Nelson by a nearly 3 to 1 margin. Scott, and group’s associated with his campaign have spent more than $21 million on advertising. Nelson’s campaign can’t yet afford TV advertising but outside group’s backing him have spent $7.5 million on his behalf.
Scott’s released his newest ad Monday, hitting Nelson for skirting payroll taxes for people employed by his campaign.
Instead of TV commercials, Nelson has stepped up his attacks on Scott’s policies and relied on free publicity from the traditional media. Last week alone, Nelson held media events where he attacked Scott on algae blooms discharged from Lake Okeechobee and beach access in the panhandle.