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Rubio battles back

Crist Rubio

For a while the polling of the Florida Senate race had many people thinking that Charlie Crist, newly minted Independent, was running away with it.

I disagreed and assumed his bump in the polls was driven by heavy coverage of his party switch and of his oil spill inspections. Rasmussen’s latest just might bear that out as Marco Rubio takes a fresh lead.

It’s a carpet bomb poll, matching up Rubio and Crist against the two likely nominees for the Democrats: Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene. The ordering is the same for both though: Rubio and Crist are 1-2 at 36 and 34 against Meek’s 15, and they’re at 37 and 33 against Greene’s 18 (MoE 4.5).

All these little differences strike me as random sampling noise in a race that doesn’t change no matter which candidate the Democrats put up. Crist so far has squeezed the Democrats out.

How long he’ll manage that remains to be seen. Rasmussen has his job approval down 7 points in a month to 53%, and he simultaneously snags a quarter of Republicans and a majority of all of those who oppose repeal of the PPACA. That to me is a sign that Crist is trying to please a number of his old Republican voters while still reaching out to left of center independents. I don’t see how he keeps both.

Plus after the primary in August, the Democrats will have a clear nominee and that will surely give the primary winner a boost, whichever of Greene and Meek comes out on top. That will further erode Crist’s position.

So for now it’s a two way race with the Democrat far behind, but we could see this become a proper three way race by the fall, or we might see Rubio run away with it. Much will depend on Crist and how he resolves his tightrope strategy.

Crossposted from Unlikely Voter

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