New Poll Shows Rick Scott Has A Bumpy Road Ahead

Quinnipiac University released a new poll today with a headline that includes: “…Gov’s Grades Are Low, But Best Ever.”   This description gave many republicans in Florida reason to jump for joy.  However, those that were spinning this poll as good news for Gov. Rick Scott failed to read the actual crosstabs.  This poll shows that Gov. Scott has an undoubtedly bumpy road ahead in his attempt to be reelected in 2014.

In a head-to-head match-up Crist leads Scott by 10%, but this isn’t the most concerning aspect of this poll for Gov. Scott.

Charlie Crist vs. Rick Scott Pie Chart

One of the most important questions in this poll asks registered voters whether Rick Scott deserves to be reelected.

Does Rick Scott deserve to be re-elected? Crosstabs

Only 35% of registered voters in Florida feel Rick Scott deserves to be reelected, 35% of Independent voters, 37% of Hispanic voters, and an incredibly low 29% of women feel he deserves to be reelected.  These numbers should be very concerning to Florida republicans and Gov. Scott, especially the low numbers from women, which represent approximately 52% of the expected electorate in the 2014 general election.

Now, let’s take a look at the favorability of Gov. Scott.

Scott Favorables

His overall favorability has increased over the past year, but he is garnering much of his support from Republicans, with an extremely high 74% favorable rating in that subgroup.  It is interesting to note that though 74% of Republicans find him favorable, only 63% of Republicans feel he deserves to be reelected.  Again, let’s focus on Independents, Women, and Hispanic registered voters. 38% of Independents, 35% of Women, and 34% of Hispanics find Rick Scott favorable, this is not good news for Rick Scott.  Also important to note, 29% of Black voters, and 26% of Hispanic voters “haven’t heard enough about him” to give an opinion.  These two subgroups represent a significant problem for Rick Scott going forward, as voters become more aware of the upcoming election and are bombarded with messages illustrating the negative policies that Gov. Scott has embraced since becoming governor.

The favorability ratings of Charlie Crist show a dramatic difference when compared to Gov. Scott’s.

Crist Favorables

Crist is +19% net favorable among Independents and Hispanics, and is +23% net favorable among Women.  Charlie Crist is the anti-Rick Scott in terms of favorability, he has wide appeal among all subgroups except Republicans.  And even among Republicans, 27% have a favorable view of him despite the relentless attacks by the Republican Party of Florida.  An interesting number in Crist’s favorability numbers is that 36% of Hispanics “haven’t heard enough about him” to give an opinion.  This a very fruitful subgroup for Crist to focus on, to extend his overall favorability.

And now let’s look at the head-to-head matchup between Crist and Scott.

Crist vs. Scott

Crist vs. Scott pt.2

Crist has a 10% lead on Gov. Scott overall, a 12% lead among Independents, a 19% lead among Women, and a 7% lead among Hispanics.  Again, of note is the large amount of Hispanic voters (24%) that are not sure who they are supporting in this match-up.  Furthermore, voters under the age of 55 support Crist by a wide margin, and a large voter registration drive focused on college campuses would benefit Crist immensely where 18-34 year olds support Crist over Scott by a +16% margin.  Another interesting section of this crosstab is the “annual household income” subgroups, surprisingly those making over $100,000 per year support Crist over Scott by a +13% margin, while those in the $50,000 – $100,000 household income level support Scott over Crist by a +3% margin.  Crist could cut into this margin by distinguishing his policies that would help the middle-class, compared to that of Scott’s which has pushed for corporate tax giveaways, huge incentive packages for companies to move to Florida without any accountability for actually producing jobs, and Scott’s recent signing of a bill that bans local governments from implementing paid sick-leave time that helps working families.

So far this poll has a ton of bad news for Rick Scott, but this might be the worst news of all.  The Republican Party of Florida has been attacking Charlie Crist for changing political parties, and arguing it shows that he doesn’t have any core principles and cannot be trusted.  This tactic does not resonate with registered voters in Florida, especially among Independent and Hispanic voters.

Crist is pragmatic for changing parties

Independents see Crist’s change in party affiliation as a positive thing by a +8% margin, and Hispanics, by a very large margin (+25%) view it positively.  Usually when there are continued attacks on a political candidate, the messages used in the attacks are viewed negatively by a majority of voters and/or the recipients of the attack messages.  Not so, in this case.  Basically, Republicans “attacking” Crist for his political evolution is inevitably helping Crist being viewed more positively by very influential subgroups.  The irony is palpable.

Republican Party of Florida: Charlie Crist caused the global economic recession

At least that’s what the Republican Party of Florida would have you believe in their latest infographic, released on Wednesday.
Republican Party of Florida misleading infographic claiming Charlie Crist caused The Great Recession

Let’s take a closer look at this infographic, and take a “hard look at the facts” which the RPOF clearly avoids in this visual.  There are two basic arguments that this visual attempts to make.Failed Infograph Visual of Crist Causing The Great Recession  The first argument is that former Governor Charlie Crist was solely responsible for the entirety of jobs lost during his term in office and the resulting increase in the unemployment rate in Florida, disregarding any outside economic factors.  Second, the decrease in the unemployment rate in Florida since December of 2010 (over a month before Governor Rick Scott took office), and the addition of all private-sector jobs during this period, is due entirely to Gov. Scott being in office.

As we all know or should know, beginning in December of 2007 the United States and the entire world entered an economic recession not seen since The Great Depression.  In January 2011, the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded: “The crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.”

Surely, some would have been more than delighted to see former Governor Charlie Crist named as a cause to the global financial crisis.  However, if anyone suggested as much, they would be laughed out of the room, and seen as a fool.  Enter the Republican Party of Florida who makes this absurd claim yesterday.  No matter how much the RPOF wishes that Florida lives in vacuum devoid of outside forces, it does not.

As we continue down to the second argument of this infographic, the Republican Party of Florida emphasizes that NO credit to the economic recovery in Florida is due to President Obama.  In case we weren’t sure of their argument, they had to underline the word “no.”

Towards the end of former Governor Crist’s term in office, Florida was feeling the brunt of the recession.  Real estate is the largest single contributor to Florida’s economy, and was taking a nose-dive as the housing bubble burst. Contractors weren’t building new houses, and houses were being foreclosed.  Florida is still suffering from the worst foreclosure crisis in the country, where one in every 32 houses have received a notice of default, auction, or repossession in 2012, more than double the national average.

In April of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit Florida and caused an extremely detrimental impact to the state’s economy, which heavily relies on tourism and the seafood industry.  This will also be argued by Florida’s own Attorney General Pam Bondi in the state’s upcoming lawsuit against BP, which seeks nearly $6 billion from BP for lost revenue.  A clear sign of the lasting economic impact of this tragedy is the Florida seafood industry has yet to fully recover, and it remains to be seen whether it ever will fully recover.

In 2012, Florida’s economy grew by a paltry .5%, one of the worst states in the country in terms of economic recovery.  But looking at this fancy infographic, it would lead you to believe otherwise, that Florida’s economy is leading the nation.

Let’s take the RPOF’s suggestion and take a “hard look at the facts” and look at actual graphical representations of the decrease in unemployment rate in the United States compared to the decrease in Florida.  Below are three charts, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, updated May 20, 2013.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate 2011-Present (United States vs. Florida)

Unemployment Rate FL vs. US 2011-present

From 1990-present, it is clear that Florida’s unemployment rate has a direct correlation to the overall unemployment rate for the country as a whole.  As the economy of the United States boomed during the Clinton administration, Florida followed suit.  As beneficial economic policies were honeymooned into the next administration, Florida saw a record low unemployment rate below 4%.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate 2007-Present (United States vs. Florida)

Unemployment Rate FL vs. US 2007-present

Focusing on the period from 2007-present, Florida’s unemployment rate rises above the national average, but follows the same national trend during the global economic recession.  As the national economy has recovered under the Obama administration, Florida’s unemployment rate begins to fall beginning in 2010 (a year before Rick Scott took office in Florida), and only falls slightly below the national average in March of 2013.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate 2011-Present (United States vs. Florida)

Unemployment Rate FL vs. US 2011-present

This chart gives us a closer look at the period since Rick Scott has been governor of Florida.  Florida’s unemployment rate is still following the national trend as economic recovery continues, albeit the Florida unemployment has finally dipped below the national average, which has happened historically as the national economy is healthy, as shown in the first chart.

Do these charts point to Rick Scott singlehandedly decreasing the unemployment rate, like RPOF’s infographic suggests? Hardly.  The people of Florida aren’t foolish enough to believe that Charlie Crist was the cause of the “crash,” and Rick Scott is the savior of Florida’s economy.  Nice try Republican Party of Florida, but Floridians aren’t the fools you’re looking for.