Florida voters remain cool on Republican Gov. Rick Scott but supportive of his directive to purge non-United States citizens from voter rolls, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
The latest poll from Quinnipiac University shows Scott continuing to nurse a weak approval rating, with only 39 percent of Florida voters approving of the job the first-term governor is doing compared with 49 percent who disapprove. That’s slightly down from Quinnpiac’s previous poll last month, which also showed Scott with a negative approval rating. Scott, who was narrowly elected in 2010 over Democrat Alex Sink, has seen his popularity steadily drop since taking office.
The PollTracker Average illustrates that Scott’s approval rating has been under water for the better portion of his first term.
But voters overwhelmingly support his controversial effort to purge voter rolls for which the Sunshine State has received nationwide attention. Scott has been steadfast in his defense of the purge, even as the initiative has prompted lawsuits from both civil rights groups and the U.S. Department of Justice. The governor appears to have an ally in his constituents. According to Wednesday’s Quinnipiac poll, 60 percent of Florida voters support the purge of the voter rolls, while 35 percent are opposed.
Not surprisingly, there are clear racial and partisan divisions when it comes to support for the initiative. White voters strongly support the voter purge — 67 percent to 29 percent — while black voters are decidedly opposed to Scott’s directive, 56 percent to 38 percent. Critics have argued that the purge will lead to wrongful disenfranchisement and disproportionately affect minority voters.
Ninety percent of Republicans support the voter purge, while 60 percent of Democrats are opposed. Some Democratic leaders have decried Scott’s directive as a thinly veiled effort to bolster the chances of Republicans, namely Mitt Romney, in the perennial swing state. There has been well-publicized tension between Scott and members of the Obama administration, who contend that the purge puts Florida in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.