PPP Poll: Crist Leading In Florida Senate Race, Becoming De Facto Dem

The new survey of the Florida Senate race by Public Policy Polling (D) shows Gov. Charlie Crist, an ex-Republican who bolted the GOP to run as an independent, continuing to lead. Indeed, he is at this point a de facto Democratic candidate, pushing Dem contenders Rep. Kendrick Meek and businessman Jeff Greene into third place — but can Crist maintain his momentum?

In a matchup with his Republican nemesis Marco Rubio and Meek as the Dem nominee, Crist leads with 35%, followed by Rubio at 29%, Meek with 17%, and Libertarian Alex Snitker with 4%. With Greene as the Dem, Crist has 38%, Rubio stays the same at 29%, Greene has 13%, and Snitker 3%. The survey of registered voters has a ±3.26% margin of error.

The last time PPP checked out this race was in March, before Crist left the GOP. At the time, a poll of the hypothetical three-way race gave Rubio the lead with 34%, followed by Crist at 27% and Meek with 25%. Greene was not yet in the race.The poll illustrates the extent to which Crist has overtaken Meek and Greene as the choice of Democratic voters. Crist leads Meek and Greene among the subsets of self-identified Democrats and respondents who said they voted for President Obama in 2008, while at the same time Crist picks up a about a fifth of McCain voters. And as we posted yesterday, a majority of people intending to vote for Crist want him to caucus with the Democrats.

PPP’s Tom Jensen writes: “Whether Crist can hold on to this fragile coalition through the fall remains to be seen. Right now 48% of Democrats have no opinion about Meek and 50% are ambivalent toward Greene. Will Crist continue to have such strong Democratic support after the party has a nominee who’s built up their exposure during a successful primary campaign? And will he continue to hold onto more than 20% of the Republican vote as it becomes clearer and clearer that Democrats are providing the bulk of his support? What happens on those two fronts will probably determine Crist’s ultimate fate.”

The TPM Poll Average shows Crist leading Rubio and Meek by a margin of 36.6%-32.6%-14.7%, and leading Rubio and Greene by 37.0%-34.0%-15.8%.

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