Poll: Crist Has Long, Dark Road Ahead

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A new poll from a GOP pollster confirms yesterday’s striking poll from Rasmussen showing Marco Rubio opening up a big lead in the GOP Senate primary in Florida. But in even worse news for Charlie Crist, the new poll shows Rubio has room to move even further ahead while Crist appears to be running out of options. The pollster told the Miami Herald that the poll shows the best path for Crist would be to drop out of the race with Rubio and run as an independent. But even then, Crist would face an uphill climb against Rubio.

The Senate questions were added by pollster Tony Fabrizio to a poll he was conducting for a private client, according to the Herald. The results show Rubio leading Crist 44-30, with 25% undecided. Behind those numbers, though, are signs that Rubio’s surge is growing while Crist may have peaked.Among voters who know both men, Rubio has a huge, 68-18 lead in the poll. Fabrizio writes in his analysis that the advantage is probably exaggerated, but said the numbers show Crist, who has a 100% name I.D. in the state he’s led since 2007, has run out of room to convince Republicans to vote for him. Rubio’s only known to about 60% of the state, Fabrizio writes, leaving him room to extend his lead even further as he closes the name I.D. gap.

There are more signs in the poll that a lot of Republicans are over the idea of Crist as their Senate nominee. Though he wins among self-identified “moderate” Republicans, he earns less than 50% of the vote among Republicans who say he’s doing a good job as Governor. A quarter of those Republicans say they’re undecided.

Fabrizio offers the beleaguered Crist a solution to his Senate polling problems. He polled Crist as an Independent in a three way race with Rubio and likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek (who’s got his own polling problems of late). Rubio wins the contest with 31% of the vote, but Crist isn’t far behind at 26%. Meek comes in a close third with 24% of the vote.

“Surprisingly Crist is able to hold roughly a quarter of both the GOP and Democrat vote while leading among Independents,” Fabrizo writes. “Any minor improvement for Crist within the GOP or with Democrats coupled with a maximization of support among Independents could easily put him in the lead in a three-way Senate contest.”

Fabrizo offers Crist another solution: drop out of the Senate race entirely and run for reelection as Governor. The poll shows Crist beating current GOP front runner Bill McCollum in a hypothetical matchup.

“The only GOP Primary Crist appears to be able to win this year is the Gubernatorial primary,” Fabrizo writes.

This isn’t the first time it’s been suggested that Crist’s best move would be to drop out of the Senate race. In early January, former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) wrote on his Facebook page that Crist would be leaving the Senate race race to run for reelection. Crist told the Palm Beach Post that’s not happening.

“There’s nothing to it,” Crist said of the rumor.