If Florida Governor Charlie Crist leaves the Republican Party and enters the U.S. Senate race as an independent candidate, he will begin the campaign in second place.
The latest Rasmussen Reports poll of Florida voters finds that 37% would vote for GOP frontrunner Marco Rubio, 30% for Crist and 22% for the likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek. That’s much closer than a month ago when Rubio had a 17-point advantage and Crist was in third place.
In a two-way race, both Rubio and Crist hold solid leads over Meek.
Rubio now leads among Republicans and unaffiliated voters with Crist in second. Among Democrats, Meek earns 46% support, while Crist picks up 33% of the Democratic vote.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters now approve of the way Crist is handling his job, up 11 points from a month ago. It’s significant to note that the governor gets higher ratings from Democrats and unaffiliated voters than he does from Republicans.
Still, voters are closely divided over what Crist should do next. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say he should launch an independent bid, 30% disagree, and 33% are not sure. Fifty-three percent (53%) of Republicans say he should not take such a step, while 50% of Democrats say he should.
Of course half of the Dems want to see Crist run. They know he’d vote with their side much more often than Marco Rubio would. If they can’t have Meek, Crist isn’t exactly a horrible consolation prize.
The good news is that Rubio still has a seven point lead. That’s not tiny, even though it’s clear the gap is closing. He’s in a tough spot right now though, because Crist has taken control of the spotlight. I’m sure he’s more anxious than anyone for Crist to announce his Independent bid so he can form new lines of attack and take back the narrative of the race.
Interesting times in Florida…