Every time PPP polls the Florida Senate race it's the same old story- Bill Nelson's approval numbers don't look terrribly impressive but he has a double digit lead over all of his Republican opponents anyway.
Nelson's approval rating comes in at 40% this month with 32% of voters disapproving of him. He actually has an unusual- and healthy- amount of crossover support from Republicans. 21% of them think he's doing a good job and only 45% give him bad marks. And independents split even about him. What keeps his approval low is a lack of enthusiasm for him from Democratic voters- only 62% of them approve to 20% disapproving. Usually you'll see a Senator more in the 70-80% approval range within their own party.
Here's the thing though- even though only 62% of Democrats approve of Nelson, 80-84% of them still say they'll vote for him against any of his potential Republican opponents. They may not love him but they'll still cast a ballot for him. And when you combine that with the fact he has double digit crossover support- anywhere from 12-15% of the GOP vote against his potential Republican opponents- it puts him in solid shape overall. He leads Mike McCalister 47-34, George LeMieux and Adam Hasner each 49-35, and Craig Miller 49-32. In addition to a pretty unified Dem base and a decent amount of crossover support Nelson also has leads ranging from 19 to 25 points with independent voters.
This race will get closer. The Republican candidates have basically no name recognition- LeMieux is known to 31% of voters, McCalister to 22%, Hasner to 21%, and Miller to 18%. Because of that there are a lot more undecided Republicans than Democrats in these match ups- anywhere from 5 to 13% more, and that means once the GOP gets unified around a candidate it ought to tighten up some. Still Nelson starts out in a strong position- and stronger than his approval numbers indicate- and will be very difficult to defeat for reelection.
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