The race to become the next U.S. senator from Florida remains a very close one between Republican Marco Rubio and Independent Charlie Crist, according to Rasmussen Reports. Both potential Democratic candidates are struggling to gain traction.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Florida finds Rubio earning 35 percent support and Crist capturing 33 percent of the vote. Prospective Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek remains a distant third at 20 percent. However, for Meek, that reflects a five-point gain from earlier in the month.
With Meek as the Democratic nominee, 3 percent say they’d vote for "some other candidate," and 8 percent remain undecided.
If real estate billionaire Jeff Greene wins the Democratic nomination, the numbers are Crist 36 percent, Rubio 34 percent and Greene 19 percent. In that matchup, 3 percent still stick with "some other candidate," and 9 percent are undecided. Democrats will choose their nominee in an Aug. 24 primary.
The race remains a tossup in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Balance of Power summary.
The Rasmussen Reports Media Meter shows that coverage of Crist has been 57 percent positive over the past week. For Rubio, the coverage has been 52 percent positive, but Crist, Florida's current governor, has more than double the volume of coverage.
Forty-six percent of the state’s likely voters consider themselves at least somewhat conservative. Twenty-seven percent say they’re moderate, and 26 percent are at least somewhat liberal.
Crist is viewed as politically moderate by 59 percent of Florida voters, liberal by 24 percent, and conservative by 10 percent.
For Rubio, those numbers are 56 percent conservative, 15 percent moderate, and 11 percent liberal.
Forty percent see Meek as politically liberal, while 23 percent say he’s moderate. But 28 percent have no idea.
As for Greene, 31 percent say liberal, 29 percent moderate, and 30 percent not sure.
This statewide telephone survey of 750 likely voters in Florida was conducted on July 21, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-4 percentage points.
Crist, a Republican who turned independent, wins 23 percent or 24 percent of the GOP vote, depending upon which Democrat is nominated. At this point, Crist has not declared whether he would caucus with Senate Republicans or Democrats if elected.
However, Crist says he has held discussions with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about siding with the Democrats. Additionally, President Obama’s team has not committed to supporting the winner of the Democratic Primary, possibly as a way to help the Crist campaign.
If Crist becomes perceived as a Democratic candidate, his support among GOP voters may not hold. Crist currently splits the Democratic vote with Meek and wins a modest plurality of Democrats if Greene wins the party nomination.
Crist has an 8-10 point edge over Rubio among unaffiliated voters depending upon the Democratic nominee.
While there are other candidates in the ring, including Libertarian Alex Snitker, the results from our “some other candidate” make it clear that this is a three-way race.
Fifty-three percent of all Florida voters approve of the job Crist is doing as governor. That’s unchanged from earlier in the month but down seven points from June.
Crist has called for a constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling off the coast of Florida, an idea rejected this week by the state legislature.
Twenty-four percent of Florida voters have a very favorable opinion of Crist, while 16 percent view him very unfavorably.
Rubio is regarded very favorably by 20 percent and very unfavorably by 21 percent.
For Meek, very favorables are 10 percent and very unfavorables 14 percent.
Nine percent share a very favorable view of Greene, while 17 percent see him very unfavorably.
Overall, those numbers show slight improvements for Crist and Greene over the past two weeks with little change for the other candidates.
At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.
Forty-seven percent of Florida voters approve of how President Obama is handling his job. That’s similar to his approval ratings nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
In 2008, Rasmussen Reports projected nationally that Obama would defeat John McCain by a 52 percent to 46 percent margin. Obama won 53 percent to 46 percent. Four years earlier, Rasmussen Reports projected the national vote totals for both George W. Bush and John Kerry within half a percentage point.
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