Poll: Irma Response Boosts Scott in Potential Race Against Nelson

Florida GOP governor considering challenging Democratic incumbent

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott is considering a challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has scored political points for quickly mobilizing resources to deal with hurricane relief in his state this month.

And now he is narrowly beating Sen. Bill Nelson in a head-to-head matchup for the Florida seat Nelson will defend in 2018, a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released Wednesday showed.

The poll has Scott ahead of Nelson, 47 percent to 45 percent, among 615 likely voters polled from Sept. 17 through Sept. 24 by telephone.

Scott has said he is considering a challenge to Nelson, but he has demurred when asked for a definite answer.

President Donald Trump has encouraged Scott to run to unseat Nelson, most recently on his tour through the state to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma and to visit affected communities.

Watch: Members of Congress Survey Hurricane Damage

“I just, again, I have to say that — what do I know? But I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate,” Trump said in Fort Myers.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I know that at a certain point it ends for you, and we can’t let it end,” Trump said. “So I hope he runs for Senate. Who knows what he’s going to do?”

Scott likely received a boost in his polling numbers for his handling of the Irma aftermath. The poll found that 91 percent of respondents — including 84 percent of Democrats — approved of how he handled the storm crisis.

The poll had an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Last November, Trump carried Florida over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by less than two points in the presidential election.

Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 by less than a point.

The National Republican Senate Committee has targeted Nelson's seat for 2018, and Scott would give the GOP good name recognition to bring Nelson down.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilt Democratic.

Nelson, in his third term, has held the seat for 16 years.

Scott has been the governor of Florida since 2011 and is term-limited at the end of 2018.

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