- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida’s bitter and increasingly expensive campaign for governor remains a dead heat according to a new poll released Wednesday.

A poll of likely Florida voters released by Quinnipiac University has Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Republican-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist tied at 42 percent, while 7 percent say they’d vote for Libertarian Adrian Wyllie.

The new poll was taken before the final heated and personal debate held Tuesday night between the two leading candidates.

But pollsters did reach out to voters after the fan controversy at the second debate held last week in South Florida. Crist brought in an electric fan in an apparent violation of the rules. Scott did not take the stage for the first seven minutes due to dispute.

Pollsters surveyed nearly 1,000 voters between Oct. 14 and Monday. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Crist and Scott have been essentially tied for weeks now even though Scott has considerably outspent Crist on television ads. Both sides have unleashed a wave of negative ads that have attacked each other’s character and trustworthiness.

And the new poll shows that neither candidate is viewed favorably by a majority of those polled.

The poll showed that just 42 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Crist. The figure is even lower for Scott. Only 40 percent have a favorable opinion of the incumbent governor.

“The Florida governor’s race challenges the idea that voters won’t vote for a candidate they don’t like,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “In the Sunshine State this year, voters definitely are voting for the lesser of two evils.”

The question is whether anything can substantially change the race as early voting ramps up this week. Ninety percent of those polled said they have made up their minds.

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