Florida honeymoon with Governor Rick Scott is over

Scott's negatives with voters have skyrocketed

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott's honeymoon with Florida voters didn't last long, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows.

The survey showed 48 percent of 1,499 registered voters polled randomly by phone between March 29 and April 4 disapproved of Scott's performance during his first three months in office, compared with 35 percent who said they believed the new Republican governor was doing a good job. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

By comparison, Scott's predecessor, former Gov. Charlie Crist, enjoyed a 73 percent approval rating after his first six months compared with 11 percent who disliked him. Despite his initial popularity as governor, Crist was clobbered by Republican Marco Rubio in a three-way race for the U.S. Senate last year when Crist ran as an independent. 

Scott's negatives with voters skyrocketed in the last two months. The millionaire former health care executive also had a 35 percent approval rating in a Quinnipiac poll released Feb. 2, but his negative at that time was a respectable 22 percent. "I didn't run to be the most popular governor. I ran to make sure this state is most likely to succeed," said Scott. 

The Republican-led Legislature was just as unpopular with 35 percent approving of their work compared to 47 percent who disapproved. Eighty percent of Democrats and one-third of Republicans surveyed said they disapproved of how Scott was handling the state budget. Nearly half, 47 percent, said Scott's proposed budget cuts went too far, 16 percent said they didn't go far enough and 29 percent said they were about right.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said they preferred balancing the budget through spending cuts rather than raising taxes, compared to 29 percent who favored higher taxes to avoid excessive cuts. Scott, however, would like to make cuts and also slash some property and business taxes.  "I ran for Governor with a very specific plan and I'm following that plan. Seven steps to seven thousand jobs. I want to get the state back to work," said Scott.

Women, by a 59 percent to 30 percent margin, said Scott's budget proposal was unfair to them.

Nearly three of five respondents in the survey said they were opposed to a new law that ties teacher pay to student performance on standardized tests and they split evenly on eliminating tenure for new teachers.

At a stop in Palm Beach County, Scott said he didn't run to become the most popular governor, he ran to make sure the state is most likely to succeed.

By nearly a 4-to-1 margin, voters said they approved of Scott's order that newly hired state workers should be required to undergo drug testing while those already with jobs should be spot checked.

They were slightly opposed, 47 percent to 43 percent, to proposed legislation that would end the government's practice of collecting union dues from state workers, but by better than a 3-to-1 margin favored the part in that bill that would require an individual's approval before their union dues could be spent on political campaigns.

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