Charlie Crist's declaration of independence is paying off -- so far.
The governor narrowly leads Florida's topsy-turvy U.S. Senate race, despite nearly half of the voters saying he made a "purely political'' decision to bolt the GOP and run as an independent candidate in the Nov. 2 general election, a new St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll finds.
Of the registered voters surveyed, 30 percent were for Crist, 27 percent for Republican Marco Rubio and 15 percent for Democratic front-runner Kendrick Meek.
The race remains volatile: Crist's lead over Rubio is within the poll's four-percentage-point margin of error, and nearly one out of four voters are undecided.
"This is a bit of a petri dish in some ways because Crist is a popular guy -- people like him, they like his policies,'' pollster Julia Clark, director of Ipsos Public Affairs.