… and the primary ballots haven’t even been counted yet. If, as recent polls suggest, Democrat Kendrick Meeks bests fellow Democrat Jeff Greene in today’s Florida Primary, Crist is in trouble right out of the gate.
Democrats will get their stronger candidate if Kendrick Meek wins the Florida Senate primary tonight as expected-but the biggest winner coming out of the primary may be Marco Rubio. PPP finds he would begin the general election in the lead at 40%, followed by Charlie Crist at 32%, and Meek at 17%. If Jeff Greene were somehow able to pull off the upset tonight it would be much closer with Rubio at 37%, Crist at 36%, and Greene at only 13%.
PPP's last poll of the race in mid-July found Crist in the lead at 35% to 29% for Rubio and 17% for Meek. Two major developments have shifted the race in Rubio's direction though. The first is that Democrats are now going for Meek 39-38 where before they were going for Crist 44-35. As Democrats have gotten to know Meek over the course of the primary campaign they've generally decided they like him and that's cut into Crist's support for the general election.
Though they bristle at this being said, Public Policy Polling tends to lean a little to the left (ok, a little more than a little), so producing figures that show strength in Rubio’s support indicates that the house of cards Crist used to make his decision to turn
An 8-point hole coming out of the gate is going to be difficult to overcome, especially in a three-way race. Partisan voters aren’t going to abandon either Rubio or Meek for Crist, who Rubio is successfully painting as untrustworthy political opportunist.
It leaves a bloc of mushy, middle-of-the road moderates, and all three candidates will make a run at them. It could fall any of three ways, but the smart money is on the conservative-leaning moderates backing Rubio; the liberal-leaning moderates backing Meek and Crist caught in the middle.
Go read the whole report, especially the PDF link at the end. PPP leans left, but at least they explain the method behind their madness.
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