The most recent poll out of the Florida U.S. Senate race shows former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) maintaining his lead in the three-way race against current Gov. Charlie Crist, the independent, and Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democrat. But, it is the first poll showing Rubio below his typical 40% marker, and Crist actually above 30% while Meek is closing the gap between himself at Crist at 22%.
In the Boston-based Suffolk University poll, 6% of voters were undecided, with 2% going for the Libertarian candidate Alexander Snitker. Crist was viewed as a “second choice” favorite if the race went two way, with many suggesting that if Meek were to drop out of the race, Rubio support could drop by 5 points and leave 20% of voters undecided.
But, Crist’s frantic pitch for Black voters signals worry among his advisers that Meek could pull more from that bloc than anticipated. In his last election for Governor, Crist pulled an impressive 19% of the African American vote – for a GOP candidate. And he’s been viewed favorably by Blacks in the state for a number of years. There is intense infighting within the Florida Democratic machine as prominent Black elected officials bristle at the suggestion that Meek should drop out.
“They are diminishing the Democratic Party and sowing the seeds of destruction,” argued Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), a Black Congressman who supports Meek, when speaking to The Tampa Tribune on the subject. Hastings predicted Black voter support for Democratic candidates would crumble if Meek pulled out. “Alex Sink cannot win with Charlie Crist at the head of the Democratic ticket. The rest of the [Democratic] Cabinet candidates will not stand a chance.”
Still, the Meek campaign is pushing forward hoping for a last minute change among undecided voters. Meek’s outreach operation is attempting to pull volunteers from outside of Florida to help with a massive get-out-to-vote effort. And the Congressman is drawing on support from President Bill Clinton, who stumped in St. Petersburg today for Meek and plans to attend another rally in Orlando tomorrow. The hope is that Clinton will help provide a surge, energizing the Democratic base in ways similar to what was accomplished by Meek during the primary.
For the Governor’s race in Florida, the poll found the Democrat, current state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink leading Republican Rick Scott, 45% to 38%. The independent candidates in this race are splitting 4% of the vote.
“Florida may be deploying one party to Washington and another party to Tallahassee,” observed David Paleologos, Director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk. ” Rubio’s biggest ally in the U.S. Senate race is his Democratic opponent who is preventing Independent Crist from overtaking Rubio. In the Governor’s race Sink’s biggest ally is her opponent’s negative ads against her. They are turning voters off and turning voters away from Scott.”
Some other key findings found 52% of Floridians disapproved of President Barack Obama and 58% believed the country was headed in the wrong direction. But, in another finding, 59% of Floridians had a favorable opinion of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The survey was a random telephone sampling of 500 respondents, which can be found here.