Friday, April 30, 2010

Charlie Crist’s Run As Independent Will In The End Be A Boost to Rubio - Analysis

Charlie Crist now Run as Independent, Mark Rubio Likely Next Florida Senator

Charlie Crist’s run for the Senatewas over before he announced his plan to run as an “Independent” and leave the GOP. Crist had been lagging behind, Mark Rubio, former Florida Speaker of the House, in the GOP primary polls. Rubio, a fiscal and social conservative, had pulled ahead by 17 points in a Rasmussen Poll taken in March; however, recent polling data suggested that the race was within the margin of error. This begs the question, why the sudden switch to Independent. Although the polls appeared to have tightened, Rubio’s last quarter FEC filing reports beat Crist’s by 2.5 million. In most instances, one can argue that cash on hand may not beat a solid grass roots ground game, but Rubio had Crist beat on that score as well.

Both Rubio and Crist were outpolling the Democrat contender,
Kendrick Meeks. Now, with Crist running as an Independent, granted with name recognition, the battle will come down to a match-up between the Political Parties – and who has the better “brand” going into November. The Atlantic blog, reported that Crist, had reached out to the White House < a href="
">Chief of staff Rham Emanuel, prior to his announcement but calls were not returned. Leaving room for speculation that Crist may have wanted a place on the ballot as a Democrat. The blog also notes that as of now, Obama is polling in the high 40’s in Florida, however, Democrat political candidates cannot rely on how well Obama polls in any given state (see Massachusetts Special Election as an example).

Florida’s electoral makeup, according to the Secretary of State’s website is currently at 36% GOP, no party affiliation, 19%, other party 3% and Democrats 42%, meaning Crist would have to pull significant numbers away from both major parties in order to beat Meeks and Rubio. This is highly unlikely, as Independent Candidates, with rare exceptions, normally pick up an average of 6% of the final vote tally in elections. The one candidate who did pull it off in recent history was Connecticut Senator, Joe Lieberman, who ran as an independent when forced out of the party primary, going on to a solid win. Crist is no Joe Lieberman. Although charismatic, he is not an incumbent, who is widely popular and supported by both party affiliations, therefore, it is most likely that Crist will manage that 6%, while the race will shape up between Meeks and Rubio. Although Democrats currently hold an advantage of 6% over the GOP, that 12% of unenrolled (giving Crist the 6 points), will most likely go GOP based on historical trends.

The move to Independent may have been a bit premature, and it did appear to be a move of desperation, rather than one of commitment to a particular political ideology, which may have the unintended consequence of pushing Crist further down in the polls, which should be evident in polls certain to be out within the next few weeks.

The handicappers (media) also see this particular race through varied rose colored glasses. An Ap article suggests that Crists’ move will benefit Meeks, while Politico sees the move as beneficial to both major parties (depending upon which GOP or DNC former consultant is citied in the article. Overall, with Florida’s modest makeup of independent voters, the Republican Brand building nationwide, even though the two remaining candidates Meeks and Rubio are lesser known that Crist statewide, it will, in the long-run, boil down to those two candidates, leaving Crist as the third man out.

1 comment:

Chuck said...

I think it is more likely that Crist pulls off moderate Dems from an unknown Dem than getting Republican votes. I think the advantage is to Rubio.

Further complicating things for Meeks and the Obama-embracing Crist is that with the Gulf Coast oil spill, Obama is getting ready to be a very unpopular man in Florida.

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