February 25, 2005 - Florida Sen. Nelson's Approval Inches Up, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Harris Has Early Lead In Pack Of GOP Challengers
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has a 50 - 17 percent approval rating, with 33 percent undecided, an improvement of eight points over the last six months, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Sen. Nelson had a 42 - 18 percent approval in an August 12, 2004, poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN uh-pe-ack) University, and a 46 - 17 percent approval December 7, 2004.

An early look at possible Republican challengers to Nelson:
  • 26 percent of voters, and 37 percent of Republicans, want U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris;
  • 19 percent of voters, with 20 percent of Republicans, back State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher;
  • 16 percent of voters, and 14 percent of Republicans, want Attorney General Charlie Crist;
  • 10 percent of voters, with 11 percent of Republicans, list Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings;
  • 5 percent of voters, and 3 percent of Republicans, want former House Speaker Daniel Webster.
"There's good news and bad news for Sen. Bill Nelson, whose biggest problem continues to be that one-third of Florida voters don't know much about him after four years in office," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"The good news is that Sen. Nelson has hit the 50 percent mark on his job approval. The bad news is that voters split right down the middle, 37 - 37 percent, on whether he should be reelected. But that pits Nelson against an unknown candidate and incumbents usually do better in polls when matched against specific candidates who bring their own individual negatives into voters' minds," Richards added.

"Among the things that may have helped Nelson improve his approval rating is his opposition to President Bush's Social Security proposal."

Former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, a Democrat, and Attorney General Crist, a Republican, are slightly ahead of their respective packs in an early look at the 2006 governor's race, with 30 points each.

Among other Democrats, businessman Bud Chiles gets 25 percent and none of the four other potential candidates, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, State Sen. Rod Smith, State Sen. Walter Campbell and State Democratic Party Chair Scott Maddox, breaks 10 percent.

On the GOP side, 27 percent of voters prefer State CFO Gallagher and 14 percent prefer Lt. Gov. Jennings.

"Betty Castor has name recognition and momentum after her narrow defeat in the 2004 U.S. Senate race and Bud Chiles benefits from his father's name recognition, but it's still too early to draw any firm conclusions about who is ahead in the 2006 race for governor," Richards said.

"The Republicans have three people named as possible candidates for governor or senator, so the candidates themselves must sort that out before the voters can examine them more closely."

From February 18 - 22, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,007 Florida voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the nation as a public service and for research. For additional data -- www.quinnipiac.edu and quicklinks

TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States Senator?

                        App     Dis     DK/NA


Feb 25, 2005 50 17 33 Dec 7, 2004 46 17 37 Sep 23, 2004 47 19 34 Aug 12, 2004 42 18 40 Jun 29, 2004 48 16 36



TREND: Bill Nelson will be up for re-election in 2006. Would you like to see Bill Nelson re-elected Senator, or would you rather see someone else elected Senator?

                        Re-     Smone
                        Elected Else    DK/NA


Feb 25, 2005 37 37 26 Dec 7, 2004 36 40 24



3. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                                   
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Approve 50% 52% 49% 52% 55% 47% Disapprove 17 18 18 15 19 15 DK/NA 33 30 33 33 26 38



4. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Mel Martinez is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                                   
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Approve 44% 62% 32% 37% 46% 42% Disapprove 23 8 35 26 23 23 DK/NA 33 30 33 37 31 35



7. Bill Nelson will be up for re-election in 2006. Would you like to see Bill Nelson re-elected Senator, or would you rather see someone else elected Senator?
                                                                   
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes/Re-elected 37% 33% 40% 37% 38% 36% No/Someone else 37 37 39 33 42 33 DK/NA 26 30 20 30 20 32



8. Now I'm going to name six Democrats who might run for Governor in 2006. After I read all six names, tell me which one you would most like to see the Democrats nominate for governor in 2006. Here are the choices; Congressman Jim Davis, State Senator Rod Smith, State Senator Walter 'Skip' Campbell, businessman Bud Chiles, son of the late Governor Lawton Chiles, State Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox, or former state education commissioner Betty Castor.

                        Tot     Dem


Davis 8% 10% Smith 4 5 Campbell 3 2 Chiles 25 29 Maddox 4 5 Castor 30 36 SMONE ELSE(VOL) 2 - WLDN'T VOTE(VOL) 2 - DK/NA 21 12



9. Now I'm going to name three Republicans who might run for governor in 2006. After I read all three names, tell me which one you would most like to see the Republicans nominate for Governor in 2006. Here are the choices; Attorney General Charlie Crist, Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings or State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

                        Tot     Rep


Crist 30% 35% Jennings 14 16 Gallagher 27 32 SMONE ELSE(VOL) 3 - WLDN'T VOTE(VOL) 3 1 DK/NA 24 16



10. Now I'm going to name five Republicans who might run for senator in 2006. After I read all five names, tell me which one you would most like to see the Republicans nominate for Senator in 2006. Here are the choices; Attorney General Charlie Crist, Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings, State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, Former House Speaker Daniel Webster or Congresswoman Katherine Harris.

                         Tot     Rep


Crist 16% 14% Jennings 10 11 Gallagher 19 20 Webster 5 3 Harris 26 37 SMONE ELSE(VOL) 2 - WLDN'T VOTE(VOL) 2 - DK/NA 20 15