Gov. Charlie Crist is slightly ahead of Republican Marco Rubio in a three-way general election matchup for the U.S. Senate while the race to succeed Crist as governor is about even, a poll released Friday suggests.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Friday shows Crist and Republican Marco Rubio well ahead of both Democratic candidates, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and billionaire businessman Jeff Greene. Crist is running as an independent after bolting the GOP in April.
If Greene gets the Democratic nomination, the poll shows Crist with 37 percent, Rubio with 32 percent and Greene with 17 percent. If U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek is the Democratic nominee, Crist receives 39 percent, Rubio 33 percent and Meek 13 percent. A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday showed Greene with a 10-point lead over Meek leading up to the Aug. 24 primary.
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those questioned in the general election poll said they didn't know enough about Meek or Greene to have an opinion.
"Crist's edge is in name identification," said Peter Brown, assistant polling director for Quinnipiac. "When those numbers even out, as they will to a large degree, we'll have a better picture of how the race stands."
Crist's job approval rating stood at 53 percent compared to 37 percent who rated his performance unfavorably, and just 30 percent who said they believed the Legislature was doing a good job. Crist spent much of the last three months responding to the Gulf oil spill that threatened the state's beaches.
The survey showed voters largely agreed with Crist's unsuccessful special session effort to get the Republican-led Legislature to give them a chance in November to ban offshore drilling in state waters.
The poll showed that 72 percent supported a referendum on the question and 62 percent said they favored the amendment itself.
In the governor's race, presumptive Democratic nominee Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, and the Republican hopefuls, former hospital CEO Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum, are about even, the poll showed. None of the three managed to reach 30 percent regardless of the GOP nominee.
Sink trailed Scott by 10 points and McCollum by eight in a June poll by Quinnipiac. She closed the gap partly from the incendiary television ads McCollum and Scott have aired against each other in their bid to win the GOP nomination, Brown said.
"You can't throw mud without getting some splattered on you," Brown said.
But while Sink has served nearly four years as CFO, 58 percent said they didn't know enough about her to form an opinion.
If Scott gets the GOP nomination, the poll showed him with 29 percent to Sink's 27 percent, and independent Bud Chiles at 14 percent. With McCollum as the nominee, he received 27 percent to Sink's 26 percent with Chiles again at 14.
Chiles, a former Democrat and son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, "remains a factor in the November election," Brown said.
McCollum's chances suffered a setback Friday when a federal appeals court in Atlanta reversed a Florida court's decision, blocking his attempt to get taxpayer money for his campaign.
Florida's election statute sets a $500 limit on individual campaign contributions and says a candidate would receive public financing if an opponent chooses not to follow the state's campaign finance limits.
McCollum's opponent, the multimillionaire Scott, is self-funding most of his campaign. A federal court in Florida initially ruled that McCollum could use state funds for his run.
Quinnipiac conducted a random telephone poll of 969 Florida registered voters between July 22 and 27. It said the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
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