Florida Gov. Rick Scott has closed the gap with former Democratic Gov. Charlie Crist into a virtual dead heat in a re-election contest in November, the latest Public Policy Polling survey shows.
of 591 state voters taken Jan. 16-21 showed Scott at 41 percent to Crist's 43 percent. The survey results were released Wednesday.
That's a big change from September's PPP survey, in which Scott finished with 38 percent to Crist's 50 percent.
Crist, who is seeking the 2014 Democratic nomination for Florida governor, served as Florida's Republican governor from 2007 to 2011. He then sought a U.S. Senate seat but lost to Marco Rubio.
Crist then quit the GOP, becoming first an independent and then a Democrat.
"Republican votes have really rallied around Rick Scott over the last three months," Dean Debnam, PPP's president, said in a statement. "His consolidating support from the party base explains most of his gains relative to Charlie Crist since the last time we polled."
The latest survey found Scott's rating with GOP voters at 80 percent, compared with 65 percent in the September poll.
"That shift with Republicans accounts for almost the entire movement in Scott's direction over the last few months," Debnam said.
Despite the gains, Scott's approval rating is only up slightly, at 34 percent, with a 51 percent disapproval rating, the PPP survey found. In September, his ratings were 33-55 percent.
But Crist's favorability numbers are plunging, PPP found. He currently has a 36-46 percent favorable rating — compared with 43-42 percent favorable in September.
Scott's ratings may have improved greatly over Crist's, but the Democrat holds a strong advantage over his primary challenger, former Florida Sen. Nan Rich, at 58-16 percent, compared with 59-16 in September.
In addition, the PPP survey found that, even though Rich is not known to many Florida voters, she still could beat Scott 40-34 percent in a potential general election contest.
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