It probably pained Peter Schorsch to say it, but his observation in a Sunday blog about why Rick Scott has overtaken Charlie Crist in the latest polls is so direct, so simple, so spot-on it's like the SaintPetersBlog guru threw a can of paint in my face.
How right he is.
Charlie is falling behind because Floridians increasingly realize the state is headed in the right direction.
That's bad news for Charlie. He needs the I-4 corridor. He had the edge on it, but let it slip away. And it's doubtful he can go anywhere without it.
Schorsch reports, "Crist’s support is down among whites, down among blacks. Among Cubans, Scott now leads 2:1."
For the first time, the WFLA-TV (SurveyUSA) poll that tracks the Florida governor's race showed Republican Scott in front -- Scott at 42 percent, Democrat Charlie Crist at 40 percent. According to the poll report, the data were gathered just ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll 10 days earlier, "Scott is up 1 point, Crist is down 4 points, a 5-point shift to the right."
Says Schorsch, "... It’s hard to separate Scott’s improvement in this poll from the increased number of Floridians who believe the state is moving in the right direction."
He ends his commentary with this: "Those alarm bells at Crist campaign headquarters going off yet?"
No doubt Schorsch is trying to get the Crist election team on its feet, off its hands and ready to paint on a fresh canvas. It's a cry in the dark. So far the Democrats' broad strokes on Charlie's behalf -- expanding Medicaid, building railroads and spending on climate change, for example -- are producing abstracts that plain haven't resonated with Floridians. By his body language, I don't think they've resonated with Charlie, either.
As for his one-line pronouncement on Obamacare ("I think it's great!"), Charlie is going to find himself eating the oft-repeated words he first spoke in February 2010 when he gave the three reasons why he would oppose it:
"No. 1," he said, "it would raise the rates people would have to pay for health insurance. No. 2, it would raise taxes at a time when we don’t need to be raising taxes at all. And No. 3, it would have the incredible effect of taking about half a trillion dollars out of Medicare."
Watch the 2014 general election become a referendum on Charlie Crist, not Rick Scott.
Which, by the way, is highly unusual. Usually, it's the incumbent who carries the baggage. Not this time. Scott might not be popular, but he isn't a hole too deep either. And let's face it, in 2010 he wasn't popular, he still won, and we all walked that road with our current governor. It's old news.
What we look at now is the balanced state budget Scott signed -- as Senate President Don Gaetz said Monday -- "approving the largest broad-based tax cut in a decade and affirming the Legislature’s commitment to set aside more than $3 billion in reserves." All amid a rising state economy.
This is what lifts Scott's numbers.
The gubernatorial race has already become all about Charlie Crist. All about the questions he has to answer and so far hasn't. About the primary debate he shuns. About how many times we will hear Crist was "for (fill-in-the-blank) before he was against it." About why voters should support Crist for a job he walked out on after one term because he wanted to go to Washington and not govern. And if the Scott budget is so bad, how come 43 of the 59 Democrats in the Legislature supported it?
This is the Charlie Crist show now. Winning won't be automatic, no matter how many voters he hugs. Peter Schorsch seems to have a better grip on reality and the ticking clock than Crist's high-priced campaign team.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.