Poll: Sen. Bill Nelson narrowly leads Rick Scott in Florida Senate race

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida has a narrow lead over his state's governor Rick Scott, a Republican and Nelson's would-be challenger in the Florida Senate race, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll. The poll found Nelson edging out Scott with 46 percent support to the governor's 42 percent. 

Significantly, Nelson holds the lead among independent voters, who favor him 46 percent to 33 percent in the poll. Nelson also has the support of most Democrats, 87 to 7 percent, while Scott, who has not yet officially declared his bid for the race, has a similar level of support among Republicans, 86 to 7 percent, the poll found. 

"Florida's Senate race features probably the two best-known politicians in the Sunshine State. A race between two-term Gov. Rick Scott and four-term incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson makes this unusual in that most voters probably already have made up their minds," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. 

Brown, added, "The race is close, but Nelson's double-digit lead with independents puts him in slightly better shape eight months from Election Day. This election is likely to be decided by turnout." 

The poll also found that Scott saw his highest approval rating score ever. The governor has a seven-year history of negative approval ratings but in the latest survey he got a positive 49 to 40 percent score. By comparison, the poll found Florida voters approve of the way Nelson is doing his job, 48 to 34 percent. The findings were consistent with his scores over the last 15 years. 

Scott has been in the forefront of the news as his state continues to grapple with the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Scott has since proposed a $500 billion initiative to improve school safety and ways to keep guns away from those with mental illness. 

While Scott has not indicated if he his joining the Senate race, Politico reports, citing FEC filings, that the two-term governor has raised more than $1.1. million for his New Republican PAC and has staffed it with consultants from his prior campaigns, a clear sign Scott is beginning to show interest in challenging Nelson. Scott, due to term limits, cannot run again for governor.