Tags: Crist | Scott | Florida | primary

Survey: Crist, Scott in Dead Heat for Fla. Governor

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013 12:03 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who renounced the Republican Party to become a Democrat, may have a tough fight next year if he tries to take on GOP incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, a new private poll finds.

A survey of 600 Florida voters, conducted by the polling firm Hamilton Campaigns, shows Scott and Crist in a dead heat and Scott slightly ahead of other potential Democratic challengers.

The poll was taken just after Scott announced a proposal to raise the pay of public school teachers, reports Politico.

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According to the poll, 49 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of Crist, compared to 44 percent for Scott. But the Republican incumbent drew a 48 percent job-approval rating, up from recent polls.

The race for governor is still more than a year away, but if it were held today, Scott and Crist each would draw 41 percent of the vote, with 18 percent undecided, the poll found.

David Beattie, a Democratic pollster who heads Hamilton Campaigns, declined to comment on who commissioned the survey. But he said he was not working for any specific candidate.

The poll included a question directed at what’s considered to be Crist’s biggest weakness. When described as a former hard-line Republican-turned-Democrat who would say or do anything “to stay in power,” 62 percent of those surveyed said that description was somewhat or very concerning to them.

After that question was asked, support for Scott pulled ahead of Crist by a margin of 36 percent to 30 percent; 18 percent said they would choose an independent over Crist or Scott if given the opportunity.

Scott, who lately has been moving closer to the political center with his call for teacher pay increases and his new support for expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, is not expected now to face a real challenge in the Republican primary, according to the poll.

In a primary match-up with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, he drew 51 percent of support from the poll's respondents to Bondi’s 21 percent.

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