Charlie Crist (R) 47 (57)
Marco Rubio (R) 37 (4)
That's a 43-point swing in the last 10 months. Dramatic. Now we wanted to know where Rubio's support was coming from, and so we decided to see if there was a correlation between the birthers -- the craziest of the GOP's base -- and this primary.
Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America, or not? (Asked only of GOP primary voters)
Not Sure 36
Was Obama born in US?
Yes No Not sure
Crist 73 31 33
Rubio 16 54 45
Wow. Clear correlation. The crazier the Republican, the better Rubio does. Of the sanest Republicans -- those who don't buy into the crazy birther conspiracy theories, only 16 percent support Rubio compared to the whopping 73 percent who support Crist. The governor's problem is that only 35 percent of Florida Republicans fall under that category. Note the birther crosstabs for both the general and GOP primary election samples -- the general election sample is less crazy, with 57 percent of Republicans saying Obama was born in the US, compared to 35 percent of likely GOP primary voters.
These trendlines are bleak for Crist, and there's little chance of him surviving. Remember, Rubio hasn't spent a dime on media yet. This is all grassroots driven, and the teabaggers are engaged, angry, and looking for the next Scozzafava. Crist is in their crosshairs, and the governor has been flopping all over the place hoping to stem this growing tide against him, and failing. Note -- 50 percent of Republicans still don't know who Rubio is. The more he raises his name ID, the better he does.
We decided to see how Crist would perform in a general election as a Republican, Democrat, and Independent:
All likely voters
Crist (R) 50
Meek (D) 33
Rubio (R) 30
Meek (D) 38
Don't get too excited with those Rubio/Meek numbers. 40 percent of Republicans are inexplicably "undecided" on that question. They'd come home.
Now for the hypotheticals:
Crist (I) 32
Rubio (R) 27
Meek (D) 31
Rubio (R) 34
Crist (D) 45
The three-way matchup is a statistical dead-heat, with the biggest undecided block being Democrats. Independents break 45% Crist, 27% Meek, and 22% Rubio. That would be an almost exact replay of NY-23.
On the two-way matchup with Crist as a Democrat, a third of Democrats are undecided. They'd like proof that Crist was a real Democrat, I'm sure. But ultimately, most would come home rather than give the birther-teabagger candidate the Senate seat. A quarter of independents are also undecided, though I won't pretend to guess what they'd do. Those who know what they want break 40 percent for Crist, 34 percent for Rubio.
If I'm Charlie Crist, I realize that I'm toast in the Republican primary. I note that a three-way race is a coin flip at best. But as a Democrat... switching parties and making an earnest transition on the issues would be the cleanest path to a Senate seat.
Whether we'd want him as a Democrat is another story, and one that would depend heavily on how he managed his party switch. But it's clear that he's no longer welcome in his own party. And he has a choice to make -- remain as a hated interloper in his existing party, or try to find a more hospitable home elsewhere.
p.s. We also polled the governor's race -- it's a dead heat between Republican Bill McCollum (35), Democrat Alex Sink (33), and Undecided (32).