Poll: Crist Independent Bid Would Help Rubio

The new survey of the Florida Senate race from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that if moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Crist were to hypothetically leave the GOP, he would still have trouble winning the election as an independent or a Democrat.

Interestingly enough, while Crist trails Marco Rubio in the Republican primary by a landslide, he is still a somewhat stronger candidate than Rubio for the general election. Crist leads Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek by 46%-33%, while Rubio leads Meek by a narrower 44%-39%, with a ±3.4% margin of error. This doesn’t help Crist too much on an electability argument, though, because both Republicans are nevertheless leading the Democrat.Crist’s approval rating is only 35%, with 51% disapproval. The once-popular and seemingly unstoppable governor has seriously fallen in his political stature.

Crist was also tested as both an independent in a three-way race, and as a Democratic nominee. Rubio leads in a three-way race with 34%, followed by Crist at 27%, and Meek with 25%. Crist would draw 32% of Democratic voters, 18% of Republicans, and 35% of independents — suggesting that an independent Crist bid could help Rubio, by drawing more votes from Democrats than Republicans.

With Crist as the Democratic candidate, Rubio leads by 43%-34% — meaning that because of a higher level of undecided Democrats in this match-up, Crist is not as strong a Democratic candidate as the actual Democrat who is currently in the race.

PPP’s Tom Jensen writes: “Taken as a whole the numbers suggest that Crist’s most winnable path to the US Senate now is as an independent, given his huge deficit with Republican primary voters. But even that’s a long shot — among all Florida voters 24% want Crist as Governor a year from now, 15% want him in the Senate, and 47% would like to see him out of elected office. Crist finds himself now in a very difficult position.”