Poll finds Scott with slight lead in close US Senate race

2-term Florida governor pulls in front of incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Senate race between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott continues to be one of the most competitive in the country, but the numbers are trending higher for the challenger.

Statewide, Scott has now opened a narrow 47 to 44 percent lead over Nelson, a slight shift in the Republican’s favor since February, when the incumbent had a 1-point lead over Scott.

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.

The demographic divides generally remain the same, but there has been a widening gender gap. Scott was ahead of Nelson among men by 52 to 39 percent in February, but that has expanded to 55 to 34 percent. Likewise, Nelson led among women by 51 to 37 percent, but has grown it slightly to 54 to 39 percent.

Nelson has an overwhelming lead among Democrats (80-12 percent), black voters (83-4 percent) and more narrow lead among Hispanics (44-39 percent).

Scott still has the advantage with Republicans (84-7 percent) and whites (58-36 percent). Those with no party affiliation continue to lean for Scott (47-43 percent).

Nelson’s strength remains in Southeast Florida (57-31 percent), but Scott continues to hold wide margins in North Florida (56-38 percent) and Southwest Florida (59-33 percent). The decisive “I-4 corridor” has moved slightly toward Scott, who leads in the Central Florida region (53-40 percent), while Nelson has only a 1-point advantage in Tampa Bay (45-44 percent).

Scott is viewed favorably by more state voters than Nelson (44-36 percent), but the margin who view him unfavorably is just 2 points (33-31 percent).

Opinion of President Donald Trump in Florida remains about even: 43 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable.

All signs continue to point towards a close race, but there has been a small, but clear, shift toward Scott.

The poll of 625 registered Florida voters who indicated they were likely to vote in the November general election was conducted July 24-25 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Inc. of Jacksonville. The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than ±4 percentage points.

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