TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott is one of the least popular governors in America, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that shows 57 percent of voters disapprove of his job performance.
Only 29 percent favor the job Scott is doing, the poll of 1,196 registered voters shows.
Scott’s job-performance numbers mirror public sentiment about the $69.7 billion state budget, which cuts schools, healthcare and programs for the environment. The poll finds that 54 percent of voters say the budget is “unfair” to someone like them, while 29 percent favor it.
Scott has praised what he calls the “jobs budget” as a way to get Florida’s economy moving. But despite the nickname, the budget will lead to more layoffs in the short-term because it eliminates nearly 4,500 state worker positions.
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Scott also plans to veto tens of millions of hometown spending projects that lawmakers inserted in the $69.7 billion state budget to benefit their districts.
“The data on the perceived fairness of the governor’s budget is crucial. When voters by almost 2-1 say his approach is unfair to them, that’s a giant flashing political warning sign for Scott,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a written statement. “When voters don’t think they are being treated fairly, they tend to react negatively.”
Scott has said that cutting state spending is a must to reduce the footprint of state government and allow the private sector to flourish and create jobs. But the Quinnipiac poll shows that most voters don’t share the sentiment.
A plurality of voters -- 38 percent -- think the budget cuts will hurt Florida’s economy rather than help it. Only 23 percent say the cuts are good. Nearly half -- 47 percent -- say the cuts go too far; 18 percent say there aren’t enough cuts and 22 percent say the cuts are just about right.
Scott’s 29-57 job approval rating is the lowest of any governor out of the six states polled by Quinnipiac, a Connecticut-based university.
Scott’s numbers have deteriorated from mediocre to bad ever since he took office. In February, a month after he took office, only 35 percent favored Scott’s job performance. Then, in April, his disapproval rating more than doubled to 48 percent.
The Republican-led Legislature, which typically has low approval ratings, has a similar job-approval rating as Scott with 56 percent disapproving and only 27 percent registering approval.
But it’s not just the state budget that’s a drag on the Legislature and Scott. The poll shows that a big portion of voters, 63 percent, say property insurance is getting more difficult and 59 percent say there needs to be more regulation of the insurance market. Yet Scott and the Legislature say it’s time for fewer regulations.
Scott recently signed a property-insurance overhaul into law that, consumer advocates say, will allow some insurers to raise rates even higher.
When asked about previous polls showing his low job-approval ratings, Scott shrugged off the bad numbers, saying he’s not governing to be the most popular. He wants to be the most likely to succeed.
Scott is still somewhat popular among Republicans, with 51 percent giving him a thumbs up in the poll. Only 13 percent of Democrats like the job he’s doing. Independents, who split the difference in Florida and often decide elections, dislike Scott’s job performance by a 57-28 percent split.
Brown, the Quinnipiac pollster, sees some hope for Scott.
“The good news for the governor is that he has three and a half years to turn public opinion around,” Brown said.