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Q poll: Crist is as popular as Obama in Fla; Senate a scramble

Here's the latest from Quinnipiac:

"Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has a sky-high 65 – 24 percent approval rating and he is as well liked among Florida voters as President Barack Obama, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.  Most of the potential U.S. Senate candidates are unknown to most voters.

" Had Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink decided to run for the U.S. Senate, she would have had a small early lead in the Democratic field, and run almost even with the best-known GOP potential candidate, Attorney General Bill McCollum, with 35 percent for Sink and 36 percent for McCollum, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

"Although McCollum holds a wide lead in name recognition among the GOP candidates, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, son of the former senator with the same name, runs closely to him in a trial heat of GOP contenders and also is viewed very positively by the party-rank-in-file."

In a trial heat among Democratic candidates, she gets 15 percent, while U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek has 13 percent, followed by U.S. Rep. Ron Klein at 9 percent, U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd with 8 percent and State Sen. Dan Gelber at 1 percent.  Even with a ballot that includes Sink, 54 percent of registered Democrats say they do not have a candidate.

In the Republican trial heat, McCollum gets 22 percent to Mack’s 21 percent, with 10 percent for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, 6 percent for former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio,   2 percent for former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense, and 40 percent undecided.  Republican voters’ favorability ratings of the candidates are:· 

Republican voters favorable/unfavorable:

McCollum            51-10

Rubio                    12-10

Buchanan            21-5

Mack IV                41-8

“No one has surfaced as a likely Democratic opponent for Gov. Charlie Crist and that’s not surprising given how well he is thought of by Floridians,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “It’s impressive at this time of national Obamamania that Gov. Crist’s favorability rating is slightly higher than that of the new President.  Of course, it’s still more than 21 months until the 2010 election, but Charlie Crist looks like a very strong candidate for re-election.”

In today’s survey, 67 percent of Floridians view Crist favorably, 21 percent unfavorably.  Obama is viewed favorably by 66 percent and unfavorably by 16 percent in the survey completed on the eve of his inauguration.