Florida's Puerto Ricans are falling for Rick Scott over Bill Nelson in Senate race, poll says

Puerto Rican voters are becoming increasingly smitten with Gov. Rick Scott over U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the leadup to the November midterms, according to a poll commissioned by Florida International University.

The poll found that about 75 percent of Puerto Ricans maintain a positive view of Scott, while 18 percent remain unmoved in their dislike of the two-term Florida governor. Meanwhile, only 7 percent said they didn't know enough about Scott to form a negative opinion.

By comparison, the poll shows that 62 percent of Puerto Ricans surveyed favor Nelson and 26 percent aren't fond of him, while 13 percent don't know enough to draw an opinion.

Look at those numbers through a slightly difference lens and you'll find that Scott's net approval rating is 57 percent and Nelson's is 36 percent among the 1,000 Puerto Ricans included in the survey. That means the Republican challenger — in a year that's predicted to result in a blue Democratic wave, no less — is ahead of the Democratic incumbent by 21 points.

As if those numbers aren't jarring enough, at least from a progressive point of view, 57 percent of the poll's respondents said they're registered as Democrats, while 12 percent said they're registered as Republicans. Going further, almost 57 percent said they would vote for a generic Democrat while only 7 percent would vote for an unnamed Republican.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent and included  people in the Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas. The poll's results also don't necessarily provide a head-to-head comparison between Nelson and Scott, since it surveyed all Puerto Ricans in Florida who have arrived both before and after Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017. With Puerto Ricans now being the largest Hispanic group in Florida — with about 1.1 million residents — most estimates expect about 500,000 to turn out to vote in the November election.

In light of the poll's results, it's also safe to say that Scott's seven trips to Puerto Rico post-Maria is making an impact on the race as a whole.

A few more takeaways from the poll:
  • 61 percent of Puerto Ricans live in the Orlando area, 22 percent in Tampa Bay, 11 percent in Miami and 6 percent in the Fort Lauderdale area.
  • 48 percent of those surveyed said it has been difficult to find a job, while 38 percent disagreed and said it hasn't been difficult.
  • Three out of four are registered to vote in the U.S., with 57 percent of whom registered as Democrats, 18 percent as independents and 12 percent as Republicans, while 13 percent declined to say or did not know.
  • 100 percent of those included in the poll had heard of President Donald Trump, 76 percent had heard of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, 69 percent had heard of Scott and 50 percent had heard of Nelson.
  • Close to 73 percent of Puerto Ricans polls moved to Florida before 2011, nearly 28 percent from 2012 to 2014, nearly 24 percent in 2015 and 2016 and nearly 26 percent since 2017.
  • 77 percent had family in Florida before moving here.
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