TALLAHASSEE -- The race for governor has narrowed slightly, with Republican Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum ahead of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrats' nominee, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.
The poll showed McCollum with 40 percent of support and Sink with 36 percent.
McCollum has been the front runner in the race to replace Gov. Charlie Crist since August but, according to the poll of likely voters conducted April 8-13, he's not getting much traction among independents with his plan to sue the federal government over its healthcare reform package.
Voters say, 54-50 percent, that it's a "bad idea'' for McCollum to file a lawsuit challenging the plan, and they say, 38-28 percent, that it makes them less likely to support his bid for governor. Among independents -- the historically crucial voting group in Florida -- the idea is particularly unpopular: 41 percent oppose the lawsuit challenge, while 27 percent support it.
"Florida voters mostly disapprove of the health care plan, 48-44 percent, but trying to stop it in court is not a political winner for McCollum, at least at this point,'' said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
McCollum easily disposes of a primary challenge by state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland for the Republican nomination, 56-7 percent, according to the poll, with 34 percent undecided. Sink has no primary challenger.
Most voters say they approve of the job McCollum is doing as attorney general, 51-25 percent, and 38 percent have a favorable opinion about him, while 18 percent do not. But 41 percent of those polled said they who don't know enough about him to form an opinion.
Sink is less well-known and less well-liked by those who know her. She gets a 39-26 percent approval rating for her job as CFO, with 22 percent of those surveyed saying they have a favorable opinion of her and 15 percent saying they do not. Sixty-one percent don't know enough about her to form an opinion, according to the poll.
While McCollum continues to hold the edge in the close race for governor, Brown warned: "November is a long way off.''
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's approval rating has risen since January to 50-45 percent, compared to four months ago, when 45 percent of those surveyed felt positive about him and 49 percent held a negative view, the survey found.
The uptick in the president's numbers is largely due to his improved standing among independent voters, who give him a narrow 48-46 percent approval rating, Brown said.
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