Devastating Reverse

September 15, 2010 7:55 p.m.

The day after the Florida Senate primary on August 24th, our Eric Kleefeld suggested that Kendrick Meek’s victory over mogul-Democrat Jeff Greene might be very bad news for Charlie Crist, who to that point, running as an independent, had been in a consistent lead over Republican nominee Marco Rubio. Indeed, Crist had virtually supplanted Meek as the de facto Democrat in the race.

But Eric was prescient. Meek’s victory over Greene has turned out to be a devastating reverse for Crist.

Our trend graph tells the story in elegant detail. Around mid-July, Meek started reclaiming Democrats, seemingly at Crist’s direct expense, to the point where Rubio, who was behind, has now opened a commanding lead of almost 10 points. Polls up to election day had shown Greene making no similar progress against Crist.

The reality is that both Crist and Meek are running in effect as Democrats, albeit of rather different flavors. And if they split the vote, neither can win. So the current deadlock, albeit with Crist significantly ahead of Meek, will likely guarantee the Republicans that seat.

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