It’s all over but the shouting in the Florida Senate race, the NRSC says. Despite facing two well-funded nominees in Democrat Kendrick Meek and independent Charlie Crist, the national party is pulling $4 million in ad money out of Florida, a sure sign the party thinks Republican nominee Marco Rubio has things pretty close to locked up.
There’s good reason for their confidence: Each new poll of the three-way contest shows Rubio picking up steam against his two opponents. The TPM Poll Average shows Rubio with 44.5%, Crist with 28.8% and Meek with 21.7%.
As you can see from the trendlines, Rubio’s got the momentum:
As the AP’s Liz Sidoti reports, Rubio’s line seems to be to enough give national Republicans confidence to shift their attention away from the Sunshine State:
Rubio is so far ahead in polls that the GOP feels comfortable spending its money elsewhere, according to GOP officials familiar with the plans. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss strategy.
Sidoti reports NRSC money from Florida will move to the more competitive Senate races in California and Illinois.
Should the NRSC predictions be right, it would be a rather anti-climatic end to what was supposed to be the hottest Senate race of the season. Rubio came seemingly out of nowhere to push Crist out of the GOP primary, riding on the back of his tea party supporters. When Crist decided to become an independent and continue the fight, many speculated that he’d be able to draw from Florida’s many moderate-leaning Republican voters and give Rubio a run for his money. But a battle with Meek for the Democratic vote coupled with Rubio’s solidifying of the GOP base appears to have put an end to that strategy at this point.
Crist’s camp said that despite the Republican confidence, the independent is still in the running for a November win.
“As common sense Democrats, Republicans, and independents learn more about Tea Party extremist Marco Rubio’s radical anti-woman, anti-senior, anti-teacher agenda, they will continue to rally around Charlie Crist because he is the only candidate who can win in November and then bring honest, independent leadership to the Senate,” Crist spokesperson Danny Kanner said.
Meek’s campaign took a similar line, but also suggested Crist was to blame for his inability to rally voters to his independent cause.
“We run our race, and ask Floridians to take a stand for middle class tax cuts, to protect a woman’s right to choose, to defend social security privatization and to stand with Kendrick,” spokesperson Adam Sharon said. “For Floridians who believe in the Tea Party right, in ultra-conservative ideology and in trickle down economics, then they should stand with Marco Rubio. But Floridians can’t vote for Charlie Crist because he doesn’t stand for anything.”