With strong support from women and independents, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist continues to hold a hefty lead over incumbent Republican Rick Scott, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican but later left the party and the governor's mansion, leads Scott by a margin of 48 percent to 38 percent, the poll showed. That is similar to a Quinnipiac poll in January that gave Crist a lead of 46 percent to 38 percent.
"Florida voters think former Gov. Crist is more compassionate, more honest and trustworthy and was a better governor than Gov. Scott,'' Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a prepared statement accompanying the results. "The difference may be simple: Voters like Crist, whose strength always has been his ability to connect. Voters sometimes elect candidates they don't like personally, but not that often."
Crist particularly does well with women voters, leading Scott by a margin of 51 percent to 33 percent, according to the poll. Independents also back Crist by a margin of 48 percent to 34 percent.
Former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich is the only other prominent Democrat who has jumped into the gubernatorial race. Scott leads her by a margin of 42 percent to 36 percent, the poll shows.
While Quinnipiac polls have consistently shown Crist with a sizable lead over Scott, Wednesday's results differ substantially from a poll released last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. That poll showed Crist and Scott in a dead heat.
The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states. For the poll released Wednesday, it surveyed 1,413 registered Florida voters from April 23 to April 28. The poll has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.