Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is at an all-time low with Florida voters following his participation in CNN’s televised town hall with Parkland shooting survivors, while Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who chose not to attend, is at an all-time high.
Both Republicans have backed gun control measures in the wake of the shooting that left 17 students and staff dead. But a Quinnipiac poll conducted a few days after CNN’s town hall suggests Scott made the right call not to participate in the heated event. Rubio’s approval rating hit an all-time low, while Scott’s approval rating hit an all-time high.
Scott is considering challenging Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson for his Senate seat in the 2018 midterm election. The governor has a seven-year history of negative approval ratings, but won approval from 49 percent of voters in the latest poll. That’s by far his highest rating ever.
Rubio, on the other hand, is at an all-time low, with an approval rating of just 38 percent. That’s down sharply from his all-time high of nearly 60 percent in August 2015, and down 8 points from the last Quinnipiac poll in July 2016.
The junior senator has an A+ rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA), but backed several gun control measures during the town hall, including changing the system for background checks and banning bump stocks, as well as raising the legal age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21. He also said he does not support arming teachers, a proposal backed by President Donald Trump that Republicans are kicking around.
As the only Republican at the event, Rubio was the focus of many anti-gun questions. The audience erupted into applause when one student asked whether he would promise to refuse future donations from the NRA, and he was booed when he declined. Nevertheless, he took a decidedly softer tone on gun control at the event, signaling a willingness to rethink his stance.
While he snubbed the town hall, Scott has also softened his tone on gun control following the shooting. He is proposing to raise the purchasing age to 21, and opposes the Republican idea of arming some teachers in schools.
The poll found Nelson with a small lead over Scott in a potential Senate matchup, with 46 percent of support to Scott’s 42 percent. Scott has indicated he’s interested in a Senate run. Term limits prevent him from running again for governor.
Quinnipiac surveyed registered voters from Feb. 23-26. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 points.