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Florida Gov. Rick Scott appeared on Fox News Channel's popular Fox and Friends morning show on April 15, 2011, to make the case that it's possible for Washington to solve its debt crisis without raising taxes.
Look at Florida, he said.
Speaking via satellite, Scott noted that he has proposed a balanced budget for Florida (as he's obligated to do by the state Constitution) that cuts spending and reduces taxes. He left out, we should note, that the key parts of his budget proposal -- a cut to the corporate tax rate and cuts to school property taxes -- are currently not part of the plans being considered by either the House or Senate.
Regardless, Scott told Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade that President Barack Obama needs to extend the Bush-era tax cuts. If the tax cuts expire, businesses will move elsewhere, where the tax climate is more friendly, Scott said.
The message worked on Kilmeade -- who at the end of a four-minute interview said Scott's message and proposals are resonating with Florida voters. His proof? Scott's approval ratings.
"The states that have to balance the budget are making the tough decisions, and getting appreciation for it. Your approval ratings are up," said Kilmeade, who went on to say that approval numbers are also up for governors in similar positions -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat from New York, and Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican from New Jersey.
We don't know much about Cuomo or Christie, but we know Scott's positions have been pretty polarizing on some issues. So we were curious if Kilmeade had it right.
We found two different polls that have tracked Scott's approval rating since taken office -- Public Policy Polling, a firm associated with Democratic candidates, and polling from Quinnipiac University, a group generally considered independent. We found an isolated third poll from Viewpoint Florida, a polling firm run by longtime consultants with ties to Florida Republicans.
We'll start with Public Policy Polling.
A PPP poll from December, before Scott took office, found that 33 percent of Florida voters liked Scott compared with 43 percent who disliked him.
A follow-up poll released March 29, 2011, revealed that Scott's negative numbers had gotten worse -- not better -- since taking office. In the March poll, 32 percent of voters approved of Scott's job performance, while 55 percent disapproved.
"You could say Rick Scott's honeymoon is over ... but that would suggest he had one in the first place," Tom Jensen, a Public Policy Polling analyst wrote last week.
The Quinnipiac polls also show Scott's negatives climbing, not falling.
The number of Florida voters who disapprove of Scott has more than doubled since February, the polling group found. Scott had a positive 35-22 percent job approval in a poll released Feb. 2. In a follow-up poll April 6, 35 percent approved of Scott's performance, but 48 disapproved.
"Today, Scott is a four-letter word to many Florida voters, but political popularity can change with time," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The experience of Scott's predecessor, Charlie Crist, who had 70 percent approval ratings at this point in his tenure, shows how fickle public opinion can be."
The third poll, from Viewpoint Florida, paints a slightly better picture for Scott. Forty-seven respondents surveyed March 29-30 approved of Scott's performance, while 48 percent disapproved. Pollster Randy Nielsen said the polling group didn't have previous approval numbers to compare it to.
Scott acknowledged his poor poll numbers in an Associated Press article on April 6. "I didn't run to be the most popular governor. I ran to make sure this state is most likely to succeed," he said.
Kilmeade, on Fox and Friends, said Scott's approval numbers are going up. Not according to the publicly available poll numbers we found. We rate this claim False.
Updated to include Viewpoint Florida poll result.
Gov. Rick Scott's appearance on Fox and Friends, April 15, 2011
Public Policy Polling results, accessed April 15, 2011
Quinnipiac University polling results, accessed April 15, 2011
Miami Herald, "Q Poll: More and more FL voters dislike Rick "4 letter word" Scott," April 6, 2011
Associated Press, "Florida honeymoon with Governor Rick Scott is over," April 6, 2011
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