PPP's newest look at the Florida Governor's race finds that it has tightened considerably over the last three months. What was a 12 point lead for Charlie Crist over incumbent Rick Scott in September at 50/38 is now just a 2 point advantage at 43/41.
The movement since the fall has come largely as a result of Republican voters rallying around Scott and continuing to decline in their affection for Crist. Scott now leads by 66 points with the GOP base at 80/14, compared to only a 44 point advantage on previous poll at 65/21. That shift with Republicans accounts for almost the entire 10 point movement in Scott's direction over the last few months.
It's not that Scott is becoming any more popular. His 34/51 approval spread is only slightly improved from 33/55 on our last poll, and it still puts him among the 6 most unpopular Governors in the country in our polling. But Crist's favorability numbers are really declining. In September he was on narrowly positive ground at 43/42, now he's dropped a net 11 points to 36/46. He's doing a good deal worse with both Republicans and independents than we've found in past polling.
Crist does maintain a substantial advantage in the Democratic primary though. He was up 59/16 on Nan Rich in the fall, and he's up 58/16 now. Rich continues to be mostly unknown to voters across the state and would trail Scott by 6 points at 40/34 in a general election match up.
Other notes from our Florida poll:
-For the first time ever we find a plurality of Florida voters in support of gay marriage. 47% favor it to 44% who are opposed. That represents a 14 point shift from October of 2011 when we found the state against it by an 11 point margin at 37/48. Among respondents under the age of 45 there's 58/34 support for gay marriage.
-There's strong public support for a ballot measure that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. 65% of voters support it to only 23% who are opposed. It has greater than 70% support with both independents and Democrats, and even with Republicans it's favored by a 50/42 margin.
-Bill Nelson (+5 at 40/35) has the higher net approval rating of Florida's two Senators, beating out Marco Rubio's -2 standing at 43/45. One recent issue where voters are much more on Nelson's side than Rubio's is that of extending unemployment benefits. 67% think Congress should continue them (Nelson's position) to only 27% who think they should be cut off (Rubio's position.) Another issue coming up that could divide them is increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour- 62% of voters support that with just 29% opposed.
-Barack Obama continues to be unpopular in the state with just 44% of voters approving of the job he's doing to 48% who disapprove. Voters oppose the Affordable Care Act by a 40/49 margin, and 62% think its implementation has been unsuccessful to only 35% who rate it as having gone well.
-And finally following last week's movie theater shooting in the state, 73% of Floridians think guns should not be allowed in theaters to just 21% who believe they should be permitted.
Full results here