A new poll from Quinnipiac University is finding Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson moving seven percentage points ahead in his re-election contest with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a lead being built on the shoulders of independent voters, women, and loyal Democrats.

Quinnipiac found Nelson ahead 53 percent to 46 percent, one of the few polls with either candidate leading outside a margin of error. Since January, 13 of the 16 previous major Florida U.S. Senate polls tracked by RealClearPolitics.com had found the candidates within four points of each other, and two of the past four found them exactly tied. And other polls have agreed.

The latest Quinnipiac University Poll, conducted between last Thursday and Monday of 888 likely Florida voters, shows Nelson moving well ahead, compared with the previous Quinnipiac poll in the race, released just three weeks ago, which had the two in a dead heat, 49 to 49.

Like that earlier poll, there were very few voters not picking a preference in the new survey, down to just 1 percent this time.

Also like that poll and many others, Nelson did much better than Scott among independent voters.

And this time there appears a growing gender gap, with women increasingly leaning toward Nelson, while men are generally split, with a slight majority going Scott’s way.

“Sen. Nelson is ahead 53  to 46 percent by doing a tad better than Gov. Scott with their respective bases and holding a 16-point lead among the key independent voting bloc,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, stated in a news release from the polling institute.  “Nelson also leads among women and is breaking even among men – the traditional path to a Democratic victory.”

Scott has the Republican vote wrapped up by a margin of 89 percent for him and 10 percent for Nelson. For Democrats’ votes, Nelson is doing a little better, getting 94 percent compared with 5 percent for Scott.

But among independent voters, 56 percent said they want Nelson, while 40 percent said they preferred Scott.

Women went Nelson’s way by a spread of 58 percent to 41 percent, while men leaned Scott’s way by a spread of 51 percent to 47 percent. In the previous Quinnipiac survey, women supported Nelson by a narrower margin, of 53 to 45.

Bottom line: Nelson has opened a seven-point lead, with the poll reporting a margin of error of four points. Quinnipiac conducts its polls through random digit dialing, with live interviewers calling landlines and cell phones.

Seven points is the largest lead either candidate has had in any of the more than 20 polls listed by RealClearPolitics in the past year. However, both Scott and Nelson previously had led by as many as six points in one poll each, and neither was able to sustain that advantage for very long.

This poll comes as early voting already has begun in Florida, and with just six weeks remaining before Election Day.

“A Nelson win would be a big boost for Democratic hopes of wresting control of the U.S. Senate from the GOP,” Brown observed.

Among issues driving the voters’ choices in the Senate race, health care was the important issue to their vote for U.S. Senator, named by 26 percent of those surveyed. Among other to factors, 19 percent of voters cited the economy as their top issue, followed by 18 percent for immigration, 15 percent for the Supreme Court and 12 percent who listed gun policy.

Also, 56 percent of those surveyed said they would like Congress to be “more of a check on President [Donald] Trump,” while 30 percent think, “Congress is doing enough to be a check on President Trump.”

Wide gender and racial gaps also appeared among Florida likely voters when asked whether the U.S. Senate should confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Overall, 47 percent said yes and 48 percent said no. But women said no by a spread of 54 percent to 41 percent, while men said yes by a spread of 55 percent to 40 percent.

From September 20 – 24, Quinnipiac University surveyed 888 Florida likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points, including the design effect.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts gold standard surveys using The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts nationwide surveys and polls in more than a dozen states on national and statewide elections, as well as public policy issues.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University is finding Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson moving seven percentage points ahead in his re-election contest with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a lead being built on the shoulders of independent voters, women, and loyal Democrats.

Quinnipiac found Nelson ahead 53 percent to 46 percent, one of the few polls with either candidate leading outside a margin of error. Since January, 13 of the 16 previous major Florida U.S. Senate polls tracked by RealClearPolitics.com had found the candidates within four points of each other, and two of the past four found them exactly tied. And other polls have agreed.

The latest Quinnipiac University Poll, conducted between last Thursday and Monday of 888 likely Florida voters, shows Nelson moving well ahead, compared with the previous Quinnipiac poll in the race, released just three weeks ago, which had the two in a dead heat, 49 to 49.

Like that earlier poll, there were very few voters not picking a preference in the new survey, down to just 1 percent this time.

Also like that poll and many others, Nelson did much better than Scott among independent voters.

And this time there appears a growing gender gap, with women increasingly leaning toward Nelson, while men are generally split, with a slight majority going Scott’s way.

“Sen. Nelson is ahead 53  to 46 percent by doing a tad better than Gov. Scott with their respective bases and holding a 16-point lead among the key independent voting bloc,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, stated in a news release from the polling institute.  “Nelson also leads among women and is breaking even among men – the traditional path to a Democratic victory.”

Scott has the Republican vote wrapped up by a margin of 89 percent for him and 10 percent for Nelson. For Democrats’ votes, Nelson is doing a little better, getting 94 percent compared with 5 percent for Scott.

But among independent voters, 56 percent said they want Nelson, while 40 percent said they preferred Scott.

Women went Nelson’s way by a spread of 58 percent to 41 percent, while men leaned Scott’s way by a spread of 51 percent to 47 percent. In the previous Quinnipiac survey, women supported Nelson by a narrower margin, of 53 to 45.

Bottom line: Nelson has opened a seven-point lead, with the poll reporting a margin of error of four points. Quinnipiac conducts its polls through random digit dialing, with live interviewers calling landlines and cell phones.

Seven points is the largest lead either candidate has had in any of the more than 20 polls listed by RealClearPolitics in the past year. However, both Scott and Nelson previously had led by as many as six points in one poll each, and neither was able to sustain that advantage for very long.

This poll comes as early voting already has begun in Florida, and with just six weeks remaining before Election Day.

“A Nelson win would be a big boost for Democratic hopes of wresting control of the U.S. Senate from the GOP,” Brown observed.

Among issues driving the voters’ choices in the Senate race, health care was the important issue to their vote for U.S. Senator, named by 26 percent of those surveyed. Among other to factors, 19 percent of voters cited the economy as their top issue, followed by 18 percent for immigration, 15 percent for the Supreme Court and 12 percent who listed gun policy.

Also, 56 percent of those surveyed said they would like Congress to be “more of a check on President [Donald] Trump,” while 30 percent think, “Congress is doing enough to be a check on President Trump.”

Wide gender and racial gaps also appeared among Florida likely voters when asked whether the U.S. Senate should confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Overall, 47 percent said yes and 48 percent said no. But women said no by a spread of 54 percent to 41 percent, while men said yes by a spread of 55 percent to 40 percent.

From September 20 – 24, Quinnipiac University surveyed 888 Florida likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points, including the design effect.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts gold standard surveys using The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts nationwide surveys and polls in more than a dozen states on national and statewide elections, as well as public policy issues.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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