Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist are in a dead heat in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, with Scott at 44 percent, Crist at 42 percent and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie at 8 percent, with 17 percent saying they might change their minds before they vote.
When Wyllie is removed from the equation, results are Scott 46 percent and Crist 44 percent.
The poll of 991 likely Florida voters conducted Sept. 17-22 has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
In a release, Quinnipiac noted the poll cannot be compared with its previous surveys in this race of registered voters.
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Quinnipiac's survey shows the relentlessly negative tone of the campaign is having an effect on the mood of voters as fewer than four out of 10 say Scott or Crist is honest and trustworthy.
However, Scott outpaces Crist on leadership qualities by 58 percent to 46 percent, and Scott performs better among independent voters than Crist, 44 percent to 37 percent.
Both candidates' favorability ratings are poor and nearly identical, with likely voters giving Scott an unfavorable rating by 48 percent to 42 percent, and to Crist by 49 percent to 41 percent.
Among a smaller sample of independent voters only, 55 percent said Crist is not honest and trustworthy and 51 percent said Scott is not.
Crist has virtually no advantage among women voters, with 43 percent to Scott's 41 percent.
Men prefer Scott by 48 percent to 40 percent.
Crist does slightly better on the empathy index. When the question was whether a candidate "cares about the needs and problems of people like you," 46 percent said Crist did and 42 percent said Scott did.
With less that six weeks to Election Day on Nov. 4, Quinnipiac's Peter Brown said the two keys to the outcome of the election are independent voters and Wyllie supporters.
Brown said it's a mystery whether Wyllie supporters will stick with him or flip to Scott or Crist at the end to "be with the winner."