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The Rubio Rout; What Will Crist Do Next?

In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a new Rasmussen poll out and the numbers are pretty striking. A near 20 point advantage for Rubio means he has this all but sewn up barring a major reversal or gaffe. Given that he delivered a nice performance at CPAC, he can expect grassroots and other cash to flow into his coffers so Crist cannot dump a deluge of ads and expect no response. So this brings up the inevitable question: What will Charlie do now?

I hate to agree with Kos, but months ago he said that Rubio would wipe Crist out and that the governor’s only option to win was to run as a Democrat since a three way split would not be enough to stop Rubio from winning. I didn’t see anyone else in the blogosphere, left or right, making this claim last fall, so grudgingly full credit to him. But no, I will not link to his diary showing that statement because I don’t want him to have any more traffic.

The numbers, quite frankly, bear this out to be true. The now famous Miami Herald poll demonstrated that Crist simply does not have enough appeal to win as an independent candidate. His only path to victory, then, is to flip to the Democrat side where Kendrick Meek would not put up much of a fight. Or would he?

Crist appeals to the center, I guess, but Florida is a closed primary state. Meek is a liberal from south Florida who would crush Crist in the black vote and probably pick up a substantial segment of the Hispanic vote as well along with the liberal activist vote. That leaves Crist with a tough road to hoe quite honestly. It’s tough to win any Democratic primary by appealing to the right flank, though if anyone can do it in Florida it’s Charlie Crist.

So what will Chameleon Charlie do now? Your guess is as good as mine. The guy is a political survivor and has a very quiet mean streak. But it has to be evident to him that he will not win the Republican senate primary in August. I don’t think he can politically survive a flip to the Democratic side as he would be seen as a total opportunist and he doesn’t have the coalition to run and win as an independent.

I think Crist will wait until the next non-Rasmussen poll comes out on this and then weigh his options. And the most likely scenario for him to survive for another day is for him to drop out of the senate race and jump back into the governor’s race where he’d handily beat Bill McCollum in the primary and spank Alex Sink. Just watch it happen by the end of March.

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