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Scott’s latest poll numbers remain down, while party finance reports shed light on earlier survey

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 by John Kennedy

A poll released Wednesday by the usually right-leaning Sunshine State News shows Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s approval rating at a dismal 27 percent among Floridians, with 58 percent disapproving of the job done by the first-year governor.

Sunshine’s survey mirrors a Quinnipiac University poll in May that showed Scott’s approval at 29 percent, suggesting the governor’s attempt at overhauling his image with robo-calls and self-styled letters to newspaper editorial pages hasn’t paid off.

The numbers also stand in contrast to what appeared as a brief surge of popularity for the governor in June. A survey released then by Viewpoint Florida briefly countered the governor’s lagging poll numbers — giving Scott a 45 percent approval rating among Floridians.

Viewpoint Florida is run by Republican campaign operatives Randy Nielsen of West Palm Beach and Pat Bainter of Gainesville. They’re also big contractors for the Florida Republican Party.

Nielsen’s Public Concepts and Bainter’s Data Targeting show up in the latest finance reports unveiled by the Florida Republican Party, which also provides insight into the party’s effort to enhance Scott’s image.

Nielsen’s Public Concepts was paid $145,940 for direct mail work in May. Bainter’s Data Targeting collected $29,000 from the Florida GOP for consulting over the three months ending June 30, the party’s report shows.

Nielsen said the payments he received were for work on the Jacksonville’s mayor’s race. They had nothing to do with Scott, Nielsen said.

Meanwhile, Scott pollster Tony Fabrizio was paid $119,250 by the party the past quarter. Phone bank companies Advantage Inc., of Arlington, Va., and Election Connections.com of Tallahassee were paid $149,452 for three rounds of automated phone calls to voters, touting Scott’s budget-signing, demand for drug testing of welfare recipients and the state’s declining unemployment numbers.

Also part of the GOP’s effort to boost Scott: Harris Media, a Austin, Tx.-based public-relations firm which has opened a Tallahassee office and hired one of the governor’s daughters, drew $23,927.16 for web ads and $11,638 for website work from the state party.

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