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SurveyUSA/WFLA poll: Rick Scott leads Charlie Crist 44-40 percent

@MarcACaputo

After a $10 million ad blitz in just over two months, Gov. Rick Scott has started to pull ahead of Democrat Charlie Crist in a new poll that shows the Republican incumbent leading 42-40 percent.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for Tampa's WFLA NBC affiliate, indicates that Scott isn't surging as much as he's dragging down Crist.

Scott's overall support numbers have increased by a statistically insignificant 1 percentage point since WFLA's first poll in mid April . But in that time, Crist's numbers have dropped by 6 points.

WFLA hasn't posted its crosstabs (update, it did) showing where Crist is losing support, but it's likely among Republicans and conservative independents.

The fact that Scott is ahead (actually his lead is well within the error margin) shouldn't be a surprise. We've been expecting this for months.

The better-funded Scott has been advertising away, and Crist hasn't had the money to start responding. Expect Crist to go up sometime in June, perhaps early July at the latest. The Democratic Governors Association might help out.

A sign if Crist is hurt: If he's spending a big chunk of his money in his homebase of Tampa Bay, where Scott has spent a plurality of his ad money, 29 percent.  Scott's second-biggest advertising market, Orlando, accounts for 21 percent of his spending. Together, the governor has spent half of his money in those two I-4 corridor markets, the swing area of the swing state.

"Among the areas showing change among voter sentiments is Central Florida, which was at one point split 46-38 for Crist. Now Scott leads 47-34," WFLA reported. More here.

Republicans are also pointing out that, in a recent survey from liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling, 89 percent of Florida Democrats say a primary debate between Crist and former state Sen. Nan Rich is important. Crist has been ducking a debate with Rich, who trails him badly in the polls. How badly? Well, the shadowy Progressive Choice group won't release those numbers from the survey.

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