JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Support for incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott for a Florida Senate seat has seen almost no change in the last year, polls from Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy and the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab shows.
In a statewide poll taken by 625 registered Florida voters from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, Mason Dixon found the incumbent with a 1-point lead, while the UNF poll of 619 likely voters showed Nelson had a 6-point lead over Scott.
Mason-Dixon found support for Nelson has dropped 1 percent since last year, while support for Scott has grown 3 percent. The UNF poll found support for both candidates had dropped 4 points, with voters saying they are undecided growing from 7 to 12 percent since this time last year.
Officials with both polling organizations said with such close numbers, all signs point to a fierce contest.
“Both Senate candidates have net positive job approval ratings of 32 percentage points,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of UNF PORL. “This high level of job approval is very unusual and is going to lead to a hotly contested election.”
While the contest remains close statewide, when asked if the election for the U.S. Senate seat was held today, North Floridian's strongly favor Scott. Mason-Dixon pollsters found 58 percent of North Floridians supported Scott, with 32 percent saying they would vote for Nelson and 10 percent undecided.
Mason-Dixon pollsters said with opinion of President Donald Trump about as evenly split as it was on Election Day 2016 -- 44 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable -- and the divisiveness among voters in their views of Trump, the race could become the "bellwether contest of the country."
When asked who was the most "recognize favorable," Trump led the way at 44 percent, but Scott was just behind him at 42 percent. Nelson followed at 37 percent.
Mason-Dixon randomly selected people from a phone-matched Florida voter registration list that included both land-line and cellphone numbers, and quotas were assigned to reflect voter registration by county.
UNF's statewide poll was conducted between Jan. 29 and Feb. 4 by live student and graduate student callers in both English and Spanish. Respondents were selected through the use of probability sampling among Florida registered voters in the Florida voter file.
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