China-Chinned Charlie Crist Shows Signs of Falling Apart Again

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: June 11, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist has to be feeling a creeping sensation of deja vu as his poll numbers plummet. 

Crist and his team can’t be happy about a poll released on Tuesday from Democrat pollster PPP. Not only is Crist tied with Rick Scott but his poll numbers are awful. Almost half of voters -- 48 percent -- see Crist as unfavorable and less than a third -- 32 percent -- view Crist as favorable. Crist’s numbers are below where Scott’s are.

Scott’s strategy for the first half of the year seems to be working. Granted, Scott’s numbers are bad, but Crist’s are worse. Scott’s team seemed determined to go to work on Crist from the start, hitting him early and often. It works. Polls throughout 2013 showed Crist in great shape with the voters and easily besting Scott. But things have changed considerably. Scott’s people realized they would never catch Crist so their best bet was to drag the Democrat to where the governor is. Based on the latest polls, this bet is paying off.

Crist has been here before. Back in 2010, Crist ran for the Senate. He had a massive lead over Marco Rubio in all the polls but got caught in the Republican primary. With Crist backing Obama’s stimulus, Republicans soured on their former standard-bearer. Crist never regained his groove after Rubio and conservatives kept piling on the attacks.

So Crist left the GOP and ran with no party affiliation. Once again, Crist started out with the lead but quickly blew it. Rubio kept going after Crist and so did Democrat Kendrick Meek. By the time the smoke cleared, Crist took only 30 percent of the vote, far behind Rubio.

Crist has to follow a different game plan this summer than what he drew up in 2010. He has to bounce back from dropping in the polls, something he failed to do before, coughing up two major leads and turning what should have been a slam dunk bid for the Senate to a disaster.

If Crist wants to return to the governor’s mansion, he will also have to be able to deal better with attacks. He never quite did that in 2010 against Rubio and Meek. Scott has bottomless pockets and a strong fundraising edge over Crist. If the race is going to descend into a choice between the lesser of two evils -- and all signs indicate that’s exactly where it’s headed -- whoever throws the most mud usually prevails. Scott’s ample war chest should give Crist an edge there.

Still, there is some good news for Crist. Nothing indicates that Nan Rich is close to being a threat to Crist and the new poll shows she remains largely unknown. Even though it’s been reported that Bill Nelson was close to entering, he still shows no signs of stealing Crist’s thunder and he has until next Friday to get in the race. Despite his Republican past, Crist gets the approval of a majority -- 56 percent -- of Democrats in the PPP poll.

But that might not be enough, especially if, as the poll shows, Scott leads Crist among independents. Just like before, Crist is seeing his large lead in the polls vanish. Democrats have to hope he can recover better than he did in 2010 if they want to win their first gubernatorial race in 20 years.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (12)

Janice R.
5:38PM JUN 12TH 2014
As Florida gears up for November’s elections, Governor Rick Scott continues his quest to purge Democratic voters, attempting to fix the election of Florida once again, in favor of the Republican candidate for president.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, prohibits the governor from scrubbing the rolls, prior to submitting a proposal and waiting for the federal government's approval. According to the feds, the governor never submitted his new citizenship list maintenance practices proposal. Also in dictatorial form, Gov. Scott has violated the National Voter Registration Act, which prohibits voter roll purging within 90 days of federal elections.
These laws were designed to prevent exactly what Governor Rick Scott has done in Florida. This purge assault overwhelmingly and disproportionately affects minorities, which tend to vote Democratic. Again, no one is arguing against proper voter IDs, but changing the current practice the way Scott has is completely illegal.
Fred Hoberen
5:33PM JUN 12TH 2014
During Gov. Scott's time in office, he cost Florida tens of thousands of jobs, because of Tea Party influence. The federal government offered Florida over $2.4 billion to help build a transit system, that Governor Scott refused. The false excuse Scott used in his rejection was that it would cost over a billion dollars more. Even if this were true (which it isn't), this would have created 24,000 jobs in the Sunshine State. And after running on the promise to create jobs, Gov. Scott slashed and burned tens of thousands of jobs. Gov. Scott also refused $31 million in federal aid to prevent child abuse and infant mortality and he followed that up by refusing $40 million in federal aid that would move disabled children out of nursing homes and back with their families. These are the practices that have made Rick Scott the most despised governor in the United States. Scott will pretend he never cut $1.3 billion to K - 12 in his first year as governor, and he will also pretend he didn't cut $300 million from college education in his second year. It's an election year, so he'll make it look as if he supports education, by putting a smidgen of comparative income back
Anthony Waltrup
5:00PM JUN 12TH 2014
Gov. Rick Scott is a criminal that got away with it. Before taking the throne in Florida, Rick Scott was Chairman and CEO of Columbia/HCA, which was slapped with the largest fine in history ($1.7 billion) over Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Columbia/HCA plead guilty to 14 felonies including systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, striking illegal deals with home care agencies and filing false data about the use of hospital space. Gov. Scott’s company also fraudulently billed Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses and giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for referring patients to HCA. Gov. Scott’s company filed false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare for home health care workers, while they also paid kickbacks in the sale of home health agencies and to doctors for referring patients. Additionally, doctors received “loans” with the intention of never requiring the same doctors to pay back those “loans” and additionally granted them free rent, office furniture and pharmaceuticals. As a result, Gov. Scott was forced to resign from the company, but was paid a handsome settlement of nearly $10 million for a quick departure following the inquiry. When Gov. Scott left Columbia/HCA, he retained 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million. Scott claimed to have no knowledge of any wrongdoing and Republican Floridians turned a blind eye and voted Rick Scott into the governor’s mansion.

Also, the reason why Rick Scott wants drug testing so badly, has nothing to do with righteousness, fairness, safety and such. It has everything to do with his wife owning the company that would perform the drug testing. Rick Scott stands to make tens of millions of dollars if he can convince you that this is the way to go. Don't be fooled by Scott's rhetoric over drug testing. It's only self-serving.
8:45PM JUN 11TH 2014
I fail to see why Governor Scott has such ratings. Look at the unemployment figures statewide since he took the office after Crist tucked tail and ran. The unemployment rate, statewide, is half of what it was when Crist left office. Mr. Scott has worked his butt off to attract new business to Florida, to increase our trade with our counterparts in South America and Asia, and clean up the mess Crist left in the judiciary. What's his albatross - being bald??

I like the guy. He's no celebrity, but he's an honest man. He works hard for our state. He has my vote.

I will continue to watch former Gov. Weathervane twist in the wind up on the rooftop, pandering to anyone who will listen to him, and thank God he left office. He did Florida a favor for that.
Tom Bryson
7:27AM JUN 12TH 2014
Failure to expand Medicaid, assault on public education, forcing drug tests on welfare recipients, minimum wage, privatization of prisons, voting rights, gay rights should get us to "albatross".
Michael Hudson
8:29AM JUN 12TH 2014
Medicaid is fine just as it is; unions have destroyed public education; if I have to take a drug test to get a job there is no reason to make sure welfare recipients are drug free; higher minimum wage will cost jobs and raise prices; ID is required for practically everything we do so voters should have to show proof of identity; the majority of the people who disapprove of "gay rights" are religious zealots who need to move ahead into the 21st century.
3:40PM JUN 11TH 2014
Piotr Blass for Governor
10:39AM JUN 11TH 2014
I for one would never vote for Crist for dog catcher let alone Governor!!
he IS A TYPICAL POLITICIAN.It is all about him and not about Florida.
Tom Bryson
9:48AM JUN 11TH 2014
Senator Nan Rich has always been a more likely candidate to defeat Governor Scott than has ex Governor Charlie Crist. Senator Rich, guided by her progressive principals, supported progressive policies throughout her long career in public service. She has a reputation of integrity with her peers weather Democrat or Republican. Senator Rich is a candidate that Democrats can enthusiastically support.

Ex Governor Charlie Crist has always been a soft target for the Scott campaign. His reputation among Republicans as an Obama hugging traitor assures a large turnout for the Governor. The ex Governor's record of restricting abortion, of being anti gay and pro gun, of giving public money to private schools, sponsorship of the chain gang legislation and having several friends and associates behind bars rightfully creates skepticism among Democrats.

It is a sad commentary that the majesty of such a flawed ex Governor has managed to skew the judgment of the Florida Democratic Party. Equally unfortunate is the media fascination with the prospect of prodigal Charlie returning to face off against his successor.

Senator Rich can win.
10:44AM JUN 11TH 2014
Really???? You said "progressive" and that did it for me. Progressive's
do not have integrity, only their agenda to transform our country.
Tom Bryson
1:53PM JUN 12TH 2014
I'm sorry. I should have said Liberal.
7:44AM JUN 11TH 2014
The House majority leader Eric Cantor's sound primary defeat is your timely reminder that the GOP isn't very good at interpreting polls!

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