Despite being a former Republican, Charlie Crist’s standing in his new party is so strong that he could wallop longtime Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by 13 percentage points in a theoretical primary for governor, a new poll shows.
The survey, conducted by Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s pollster, also indicates Crist is still formidable in a general election and leads the incumbent by 4 percentage points among likely voters.
Scott fares better against Nelson, who has a mere 2-point lead over the Republican in a general election matchup, according to the poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted last month by Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates.
The results: Crist beats Nelson 45-32 percent among the 380 registered Democrats polled. Former state Sen. Nan Rich receives 4 percent and 19 percent remain undecided.
While the spread appears large, the fact that the Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat is popular in his new party doesn’t surprise political experts who say the former governor is closely identified with President Obama.
“Gov. Crist was obviously very helpful to the 2012 reelect. He did whatever we asked and was very helpful giving strategic advice,” Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, told The Miami Herald in a previous interview prior to the release of this poll.