Bill Nelson is now Florida's longest serving state-wide elected politician, and yet a surprising amount of Floridians don't think much of him one way or another. The guy has sat in the Senate for 11 years, and mastered a brand of bland Democratic moderation that doesn't piss off Republicans too much, but also doesn't fire up voters from his own party either. It doesn't look like it's going to hurt him all that much in the next election though.
Public Policy Polling finds that 38 percent of Florida voters approve of Nelson's job handling, while 31 percent disapprove. Another 31 percent didn't know enough about him to offer their opinion.
Again, he has served in the Senate for 11 years. That's longer than every other state-wide elected politician have served in their current positions combined
Those strange numbers stem from the fact most Democrats don't really feel that strongly about him. Only 58 percent approve of his job handling. Typically, job approval ratings for your average senator from voters in his own party is around 80 to 90 percent. Worry not though Nelson diehards, few Democrats would vote against him in hypothetical match ups.
The fact that no one really hates the guy either helps his reelection chances.
Nelson leads all potential Republican challengers by double digits. He's up against George LeMieux 46-35. He matches up against Mike Haridopolos and Adam Hasner 47-35. Those numbers are slightly more favorable for the GOP challengers from March, but they're not the most encouraging for them either.
Nelson has clear paths to victory against Haridopolos and Hasner.
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Haridopolos is a the kind of guy who's head harbors about as much ambition as his heart. He's also no favorite of the right-wing grassroots and was caught up in a scandal involving a book deal with a community college. He's also been horrible in interviews. Match that with his odd choice of hair style and grating speaking voice, and the guy doesn't seem like he fits the Senatorial mold.
Hasner meanwhile is becoming a darling of the Tea Party. That helped Marco Rubio glide to victory in 2010, but within Florida the deeply unpopular Rick Scott has become the face of the Tea Party movement and the type of politicians it produces. All Nelson's camp has to do is put a slightly more nuanced take on "Hasner is a crazy, Rick Scott-style Tea Partier, and I'm just boring as hell."
That leaves LeMieux, the former appointed Senator, who is also a moderate and boring as hell. In which case, all Nelson needs to do is come off as slightly more charismatic (not hard) and play up his experience.