TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Rick Scott's approval rating is improving, a poll released Tuesday shows, though not to the point that it's likely to deter any potential challengers in 2014.
The Quinnipiac University poll shows 43 percent of voters approve of the job Scott is doing, compared to 44 percent who disapprove. Meanwhile, 40 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of him compared to 42 percent who have an unfavorable view.
While those numbers aren't sizzling, they are better than the 36 percent job approval and 33 percent favorable rating that voters gave Scott just three months ago.
The numbers suggest that Scott's "It's Working" message, which he's using to tout Florida's improving economy, is starting to work.
Still, the Republican governor will have to improve those numbers if he wants to win re-election.
Scott trails former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in a head-to-head matchup. Crist is widely expected to seek his old job as a Democrat. The poll shows Crist receiving 47 percent to 37 percent support for Scott. The margin of error is plus/minus 2.9 percentage points.
Even former state Sen. Nan Rich is competitive with Scott in a head-to-head matchup, even though 84 percent of voters polled said they don't know her. Scott leads Rich 42 percent to 36 percent.
Thirty-five percent of voters said Scott, a former health care company CEO, deserves to be re-elected.
Scott's approval in the Quinnipiac poll has never been as high and is a far cry from the 29 percent approval he had two years ago. The improvement comes as the economy rebounds and as Scott has moved toward the political middle. He's also tried to create a more caring image. Unlike in January 2011 when he announced his first budget proposal at a tea party rally held in a central Florida church, Scott this year has held events around the state with teachers and students, disabled Floridians and with workers where jobs are being expanded.
The governor, who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on polling, has also pushed for the federally funded Medicaid expansion he previously opposed, restored early voting two years after cutting it back and brought together environmentalists and sugar farmers in an unusual alliance in support of an Everglades cleanup.
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