Thursday, May 26, 2011

Latest polls show 'Money Can't Buy Me Love' for Florida's Rick Scott

Rick Scott's disapprovals are about 'this high.' And climbing. 
The Beatles were right. Money "can't buy me love." Votes? Yes. Elections? Of course. Just not love.

Ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott, R-WtF. The man who spent $78 million out of his own pocket to purchase the governor's mansion in 2010.

He's now the nation's most unpopular state chief executive, according to a recently released Quinnipiac University poll. And it took him just five months.

Roughly 57 percent of Floridians say they disapprove of the job Scott isn't doing, according to a phone survey of 1,196 voters taken between May 17 and May 23.

That's up from the politically vein-opening 48 percent disapprovals Scott registered in Quinnipiac's April 6 poll. If the trend continues, Scott is on course to top the 100 percent mark midway through the Super Bowl halftime show.

Shortly after debit-carding his way into the state's top job in November, Scott prophetically boasted that as governor he "wasn't out to win any popularity contests." It's the one goal he's clearly achieved.

The poll released Wednesday, May 25 shows only 29 percent of the Sunshine State's voters were willing to admit they like Scott's five-month record of public non-service.

To put this another way, nearly one-third of Florida's adult population apparently either stopped paying attention midway through Jeb Bush's second term or they're not taking the medicine as directed.

Scott will make yet another political Hajj today to the sprawling mid-state Tea Party compound known as "The Villages." It's where he'll sign the fiscal death warrant otherwise known as Florida's next budget. Scott remains popular in The Villages. So do the Andrews Sisters and the Harmonicats.

The gated community in Northeast Sumter County began life in the 1970s as a low-rent but fragrant-sounding trailer park known as "Orange Blossom Gardens."

Forty years later the double-wides are gone, replaced by cookie-cutter condos and ranks of cloned McMansions inhabited by an estimated 75,000 fervent disciples of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

The average age of a Villages resident is 66. And 98.4 percent of them are white. For those who still remember how, it's not a bad place for a guy to get lucky. There are 10 women for every nine men. And as of the 2000 census, those men boasted an average yearly income of around $60,000.

It has 38 golf courses and its own Fox News radio station. It's the GOP's version of the afterlife - without the inheritance taxes. And it's clearly Rick Scott's kind of place.

It's also where you'll likely find Quinnipiac's Scott-loving 29 percent. Why not? Just one-third of one percent of Villages residents - that's 0.3 for those doing the math - have school-age kids. Obliterate education funding? Sure, we don't care.

Scott garnered 2.6 million votes in November to defeat Democrat Alex Sink by a landslide 1.29 percent. The Naples hospital magnate shelled out roughly $30 per vote. Scott's spending spree was third in the nation, making him look like a piker compared to Republicans Linda McMahon ($95) and Meg Whitman ($57). Both lost.

Sink couldn't begin to keep pace. Her 2,557,785 votes carried a Super Wal-Mart price of just $11.20 each.

For those keeping score, just three statewide candidates managed 2010 victories by spending less than $5 per vote: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT ($4), Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO ($1) and Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY (less than $1).

But Scott can find some good news in the numbers. The poll suggests the state legislature's job approval rating is nearly identical to that of the governor, as voters disapprove 56 to 27 percent, compared to a 47 to 35 percent disapproval in April.

The bad news? The legislature doesn't like him either.

"It probably doesn't make him feel any better that the state legislature is sharing the basement suite in the eyes of the electorate," says Quinnipiac's Peter A. Brown.

Of course, they didn't shell out $78 million each to get there.

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