Floridians have known Rick Scott as their governor for 883 days. So far, they still do not think much of him. Lord knows he’s tried to win their affection. But it seems no matter what Scott does, he still comes across as that slightly odd uncle who you politely endure during a family gathering.
His political advisers don’t seem to know what to do with him. At first they seemed to think he was the imperial governor of the Tea Party State. When that idea started to unravel someone must have whispered in his ear to let him know about the rest of the Republican Party.
Pity the GOP. When Scott slipped onto the Florida political stage in 2010 they didn’t have a clue about Scott. The GOP establishment was backing then-Attorney General Bill McCollum. His folks were already dreaming about the inauguration when this unknown bald guy started airing commercials. Even the Tallahassee press corps was caught flatfooted.
Seventy million dollars later, Scott had ousted McCollum and squeaked out a victory over Democrat Alex Sink.
Scott got 48.9 percent of the vote. No Florida governor has won with less than 50 percent of the vote. In 2006, then-Republican Charlie Crist won with 52.2 percent. Republican Bush won in 2002 with 56 percent and in 1998 with 55.3 percent. In 1994, Democrat Lawton Chiles won with 50.8 percent and in 1990 with 56.5 percent. In 1986, Republican Bob Martinez won with 54.6 percent. Democrat Bob Graham won with a huge 64.7 percent in 1982 and 55.6 percent in 1978.
It bears repeating. Scott got 48.9 percent.
And his approval rating remains, well, dismal. A March Quinnipiac University poll found that only 32 percent of Florida voters think Scott deserves a second term. Only 36 percent approved of the job he is doing.
Those numbers explain why Rick Scott is worried. Even if his political advisers publicly dismiss the polls, you can be certain that their own internal polls are not any better. It explains why the Florida GOP, on behalf of Scott, have been attacking Charlie Crist –let’s dub him a RepInDocrat – who is seriously thinking of challenging Scott.
Crist has them worried. Scott’s team is convinced that they must tear Crist to shreds now in order to bloody him before he formally enters the ring. This does not suggest that they have a great deal of confidence in Scott’s reelection chances.
Polls show Crist winning by double digits if he becomes the Democratic nominee. Even Alex Sink, who brings heavy sighs to many Democrats when there is talk about her possible candidacy, easily defeats Scott in the polls.
Give Scott credit. Despite 883 days of dismal polls, he appears to be sticking by his political team led by Tony Fabrizio. Of course some folks who have worked with Scott suggest that the problem is not Scott’s political team but Scott himself. They acknowledge that Scott is “odd” and doesn’t always follow advice.
Scott’s biggest problem is not Crist or Sink. It is Scott. Floridians just don’t have a connection with him. They knew little about him when he suddenly appeared in 2010. They overlooked controversies involving Scott because of a crummy economy and disgust with the status quo.
Scott promised to bring jobs and to his credit he has worked doggedly at doing that. He aggressively courts companies and has had considerable success. He now hopes that he can translate that success into a winning formula for his reelection.
But here’s the most important election question – even if voters give Scott credit for improving Florida’s economy, will they like him to give him a second term?
As of about 3:08 p.m. on June 5, 2013, the Nov, 4, 2014 election is in:
516 days, 9 hours, 51 minutes, 53 seconds