The Florida Chamber poll that was released yesterday created headlines because it showed Donald Trump leading in the Sunshine State by a double-digit GOP Primary margin over Florida’s sitting Republican US Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush even further back. But lost in some of the hype around the poll was that according to the numbers Rick Scott’s approval rating is not underwater anymore.
Obviously the chamber represents interests largely aligned with the GOP and Rick Scott’s policies but the 48% approval rating the Governor received in the poll (versus a 39% disapproval rating) is an alarming number for Democrats entering an election year. Governor Scott’s policies from where we sit have not worked for Florida. Economic growth is limited, wages are stagnant and ideological dogma has trumped any semblance of pragmatic or practical governance even more so since Scott’s reelection 11 months ago.
Still, Floridians seem to be pleased with the direction of the state in Soctt’s second term which is a worrying matter for Florida Democrats. The Governor’s lack of attention or commitment to environmental issues and the coming battles over water resources should be a big part of the messaging coming from the left in this state. Unfortunately, these issues are all too often put on the backburner.
To his credit, Democratic US Senate candidate Patrick Murphy has emphasized water and environmental issues though his vote for the Keystone XL pipeline continues to confound those who want to see him as a genuine environmentalist. But elsewhere Democrats seem to be uncomfortable or even flat out avoiding a set of issues which could gain them traction with the electorate as a whole.
The Florida GOP before it became a defacto extension of Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) and anti-government/anti-tax groups had a strong environmental commitment. Some of the best environmental advocates this state produced through the years were in fact Republicans. But in the Scott years the Republican Party in Florida has become much like its cousins in the western states – reflexively anti-environment and against any sort of regulation that might placed on business. But in Florida, where quality of life was often a determining factor for people of both liberal and conservative political views to migrate here, the opportunity for Democrats to define Florida Republicans negatively on this issue remains.
The question is, will they take it?