Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will face a tough election in 2018 if the state’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott jumps in the race, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The University of North Florida poll shows Nelson ahead with 37 percent and Scott behind at 36 percent, which falls within the margin of error. Scott has yet to announce whether he will run for Senate, something that President Donald Trump has urged him to do.
The same poll in February showed Sen. Nelson ahead at 44 percent, and Scott with 38 percent.
Nelson suffers from low name recognition in Florida, as 49 percent of voters responded “don’t know” when asked about his job performance.
“The one major concern for Democrats has to be the public’s lack of awareness of Nelson,” Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF, said in a press release. “When a three-term sitting U.S. senator has almost half of the sample unable to assess his job approval, you have a problem.”
Politico writer Marc Caputo noted, “Nelson’s relative lack of name ID makes him potentially vulnerable to a big-spending candidate like the independently wealthy Scott, who spent some of his fortune saturating the airwaves with devastating ads that negatively defined his Democratic opponents.”
The poll of 838 registered voters was conducted between Oct. 11 and Oct. 17. It has a margin of error of 3.39 percent.