Poll: Marco Rubio Widens Lead in Senate Race

Poll shows Meek falling further behind; is Crist saving to fight another day?
By: Kenric Ward | Posted: October 13, 2010 4:05 AM
Gov Charlie Crist-Rep Marco Rubio-Rep Kendrick Meek

Gov. Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek

Republican Marco Rubio is sailing toward the U.S. Senate, as Democrat Kendrick Meek and independent Charlie Crist are dead in the water, a new Sunshine State News Poll reports.

Rubio has added 2 percentage points to the double-digit lead he had on Labor Day, now garnering 45 percent of likely voters. Crist, with 29 percent, has not budged. Meek, at 22 percent, lost a percentage point. Five percent of respondents remain undecided.

The statewide survey of 1,151 voters was conducted Oct. 6-10.

"Although Rubio’s 43/40 ratio in positive/negative name ID isn’t great, it’s still better than his opponents," said Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, which conducted the poll for Sunshine State News.

"In comparison, Crist remains disliked among Republicans by a 64/25 margin, and even among independents has basically the same image as Rubio (41/39 positive)." The governor bolted the GOP in April after badly trailing Rubio for the nomination and pursued his Senate bid as a No Party Affiliation candidate.

Lee said, "Meek is simply not viable, given his 68 percent negative among Republicans and his 52 percent negative with independents." Based on these numbers, the four-term congressman from Miami has a "50-50 chance of finishing third in this race," Lee projected.

The ballot test shows Rubio, a former Florida House speaker, holding serve with key groups:  46/21/28 (Rubio/Meek/Crist) among “excellent” voters and 45/21/29 among “2x” voters who vote in every election. 

As for party lines, "the only 'statistically significant' finding we can see is that Rubio is getting 74 percent of the GOP vote, up from 70 percent in the Labor Day poll, but even this is within the poll’s 4.2 percent margin of error for a sub sample of 529 interviews," Lee said. (The overall poll had a margin of error of +/- 2.89 percent.)

Rubio's campaign took the latest results in stride.

"Regardless of what the polls say, Marco has a laser-like focus on making sure Floridians understand he's the only candidate in this race who will offer a clear alternative to the current Washington agenda that is taking America in the wrong direction," said Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos.

"As Kendrick Meek hung out with President Obama (Monday) and showcased his desire to be his rubber-stamp in the Senate, Charlie Crist is running out of people to fool as he says and does whatever he thinks it'll take to win votes."

Neither Crist nor Meek responded to Sunshine State News' requests for comment.

Regionally, voters in Southwest Florida are abandoning Meek. The Labor Day poll showed Rubio with 45 percent, Crist with 24 percent and Meek at 21 percent. Now it’s Rubio 47 percent, Crist 34 percent and Meek dropping to just 11 percent in that area. Results from all other regions remained substantially the same.

The overall outlook may be as bad or worse for Crist.

According to Lee's analysis, "Crist’s message as someone who will govern from the center is just not cutting with GOP voters because GOP voters are inspired by rising deficits and having checks/balances on President Barack Obama, not someone who will be a pragmatist just for the sake of being a pragmatist, so to speak.

"In other words, this just isn’t the year for candidates to stake out ground in the ideological center, unlike when Ross Perot ran and was able to capitalize on a growing populist streak against both political parties," Lee concluded.

The Sunshine State News Poll comes on the heels of an Oct. 8 Rasmussen survey that also showed Rubio widening his lead.

The Rasmussen poll of likely voters showed Rubio with 50 percent of the vote, up 9 points from the week before, and his best showing to date.

That poll found Crist falling to a new low of 25 percent, while Meek captured only 19 percent. Three percent liked other candidates and 3 percent were undecided.

Reigniting recent speculation that Meek might drop out of the race, a survey by Public Policy Polling released Tuesday showed Rubio and Crist deadlocked at 46 percent in a hypothetical head-to-head election. PPP scores the three-way matchup as Rubio 44 percent, Crist 33 percent and Meek 21 percent.

Seeking to squelch rumors that Meek might quit, Obama recorded a 30-second radio ad for the congressman while on a fund-raising swing in Miami this week. Former President Clinton is scheduled to campaign for Meek next week.

The working theory is that Democrats need Meek, who is black, to remain a viable candidate to draw African-Americans to the polls for gubernatorial hopeful Alex Sink, who is locked in a tight race with Republican Rick Scott.

In the meantime, questions are percolating about Crist's true intentions.

With the governor sitting on a reported $5.5 million and reserving an estimated $3 million in TV ad buys while running a bare-bones campaign operation, some critics suspect he may be cashing out.

Under U.S. election law, Crist would be entitled to use any leftover funds for a future run for federal office.

Meanwhile, Crist and Meek seem more intent on bashing each other than in confronting Rubio.

"Crist and Meek have engaged in a pointless and fruitless seven-day session of Crist trying to push Meek out of the race, and Kendrick slapping back at Charlie. They're wasting their time playing head games with each other," said Rick Wilson, a Republican campaign consultant.

Despite the growing consensus that the only real drama in this contest is the battle for second place, Florida's Senate race is the costliest in the nation, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The $32.6 million reported by the candidates as of Oct. 5 tops the $29.5 million raised in California's U.S. Senate campaign.


Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

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1:06PM NOV 2ND 2010
Why would anyone vote for these three criminal cowards? This race includes other candidates like Libertarian Party candidate Alex Snitker! If you want your vote to count and matter vote for Alex Snitker! End the fed! audit the IRS! Less Government! Get your RIGHTS back! Vote for Alex Snitcker!
1:10PM NOV 2ND 2010
I also forgot to mention that Crist, Rubio, and Meek were afraid to debate Alex Snitker! They are cowards! It goes to show the caliber of the three stooges! Alex Snitker served in the Marines, is a true Hero and has never stole from the people! Vote Integrity Vote for a American Hero Vote for Alex Snitker!

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