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Crist ahead in another poll, Rubio's negatives rise

From Public Policy PollingThanks mostly to support from Democrats, Charlie Crist is the leader in the Florida Senate race. In the most likely match up against Kendrick Meek he gets 35% to 29% for Marco Rubio and 17% for Meek. His lead expands with Jeff Greene as the Democratic nominee. In that scenario Crist gets 38% with Rubio still at 29% and Greene at only 13%. Crist has become the de facto Democratic nominee and that's where most of his support is coming from. He's currently getting 44% of Democrats in the Meek match up, along with 40% of independents and 23% of Republicans. Crist has increased his support across the board since PPP last polled this race in early March. At that time, while still a Republican, he got just 27% to 34% for Rubio and 25% for Meek. He's now doing 12 points better with Democrats, 5 points better with independents, and somewhat surprisingly even 5 points better with Republicans. Whether Crist can hold on to this fragile coalition through the fall remains to be seen. Right now 48% of Democrats have no opinion about Meek and 50% are ambivalent toward Greene. Will Crist continue to have such strong Democratic support after the party has a nominee who's built up their exposure during a successful primary campaign? And will he continue to hold onto more than 20% of the Republican vote as it becomes clearer and clearer that Democrats are providing the bulk of his support? What happens on those two fronts will probably determine Crist's ultimate fate.

Marco Rubio's personal favorability has taken a large hit in the four months since PPP last polled this race. In March voters were pretty evenly divided on him with 31% seeing him positively and 32% negatively. He's still at 31% with a favorable opinion of him but his negatives have swelled in the interim to 46%. Particularly troubling for Rubio is that a majority of independents now have an unfavorable opinion of him. Like Rand Paul in Kentucky, the better voters have gotten to know Rubio the less they've liked him. The Democrats aren't doing too well on the personal favorability front either. For both Meek and Greene Republicans dislike them more than Democrats like them, and additionally independents don't like either of them. That adds up to an 18/27 favorability for Meek and a 15/26 one for Greene. The most striking thing in those numbers is that a plurality of Democrats see Greene unfavorably, 23/27. We'll have Democratic primary numbers out later this week. A lot can happen between now and November, but there's no doubt Charlie Crist has a whole lot of momentum on his side. Whether he can sustain that on through election day we shall see.