In the Florida races for governor and U.S. Senate, self-funding a campaign has paid dividends for political neophytes Rick Scott and Jeff Greene, as reflected in a Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll released Thursday.
Scott leads Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum 43-32 percent in the race for the Republican nomination for governor. Scott has spent over $22.9 million of his own money so far in the primary, out of an estimated wealth of $218 million, according to his financial disclosure form. In the poll, GOP voters favored a “government outsider” candidate to one with years of government experience by a 54-28 margin, clearly favoring Scott, who has never run for elected office. Scott also has a 34-26 percent favorability spread, compared to McCollum, who divides GOP voters by a 34-34 percent margin. A poll conducted by Quinnipiac on June 10 showed Scott with a similar margin.
In the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, billionaire Jeff Greene leads Rep. Kendrick Meek by a 33-23 percent margin. Greene — who has spent over $6 million of his own money out of a disclosed wealth of between $827 million and $2.8 billion — entered the primary race only at the end of April. The few primary polls have shown the two candidates in a virtual tie — however, every poll shows a large number of undecided voters.
The silver lining for the party establishment candidates Meek and McCollum are that voters haven’t made up their minds. About half of Democratic voters don’t know enough about either Senate candidate to make a decision. Thirty-five percent are still undecided on the Democratic side and 54 percent who preferred one candidate may still change their minds. On the Republican side, 23 percent of voters are undecided on the gubernatorial race, and 43 percent may yet still change their minds.
However, with unlimited resources to spend on advertising to shape voters’ opinions, Greene and Scott will have an easier time convincing those voters before the Aug. 24 primary.