Rick Scott’s Charm Offensive

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images MIAMI, FL - JULY 12: Florida Governor Rick Scott drinks a Cuban coffee at Versailles restaurant during a visit to celebrate the Cuban restaurants 40th anniversary on July 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The famous restaurant was founded by a Cuban exile and is where U.S. presidents, governors, legislators, mayors and commissioners come to court the Cuban vote. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – After pulling out of the airport and plonking down to catch up on some work, I picked up today’s Orlando Sentinel. Front page story, above the fold:

SCOTT: Fire Jobs-Agency Execs

The story is about the governor of Florida’s hells-a-blazing response to the paper’s scoops about $5.3 million misspent by Workforce Central Florida. Jobs agencies like this have been soft targets for newly elected Republican governors. This brings us to the story on page 3:

POLL: Scott’s Image Makeover Paying Off

This is a little bit oversold, actually. A new poll shows that Scott’s approval rating has recovered from the rock-bottom lows of a few months ago: He’s up to 37 percent support. Most of that, we learn, is due to a surge of support from his Republican base. 

In the May poll, only 51 percent of Republican voters approved of his job performance – support far below that of past Republican governors like Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush. But Wednesday’s poll found that support had climbed to 70 percent. At the same time, his approval among Democrats has worsened from 13 percent in May to 8 percent now. And independent voters haven’t budged since the spring, with 54 percent disapproving.

It’s the opposite of Barack Obama’s problem: Scott keeps moving right and winning on wedge issues. He can afford to, because he’s not up for re-election until 2014. Remember the controversy over his drug-tests-for-welfare-recipients plan? Remember how it wasn’t generating big savings or revealing massive welfare fraud? It matters not: “A large majority of voters – 71 percent – also approve of a new law Scott campaigned on to require welfare recipients to pass drug tests to qualify.”

On the same page, there is a lengthy, negative review of a new exhibit at Universal Studios, built around the movie Avatar. I am in Florida.