Gov. Charlie Crist has a large lead in the three-way race to the be the next Senator from Florida, a new poll found this weekend. The poll, conducted for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, shows Crist with a double-digit lead over both of his opponents in the general election, likely Republican nominee Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek.
The poll, fielded by Republican pollster Cherry Communications, shows Crist with 42% of the vote, Rubio with 31% and Meek with 14%. The poll was conducted June 9-13 among 607 likely voters and has a margin of error of 4%.
Past polling since Crist left the GOP primary fight to run as an independent have shown him running close to Rubio. Meek has consistently run a distant third. The TPM Poll Average for the race shows Crist with 38.2% of the vote, Rubio with 33.7% and Meek with 14.5%
The poll is good news for Crist, who saw his fortunes change when he left the GOP April 29. It’s also more bad news for Meek, who has become something of an also-ran in the high-profile Senate fight. Rubio and Crist have grabbed most of the headlines with their high-profile battling, but Meek has been unable to turn early fundraising victories into attention-grabbing poll numbers. Thought to be a lock for the Democratic nomination just a month or two ago, Meek is now facing increasing pressure from billionaire Jeff Greene, who is spending a large chunk of his personal fortune on trying to win the Democratic nomination.
Rubio, meanwhile, is facing his own problems. Though he was able to scare his only real opponent out of the Republican primary race, he’s been stung by a string of recent news stories that observers say are taking some of the shine off the apple for the conservative megastar. Over the weekend, the St. Petersburg Times labeled Rubio the Florida political “Loser of the Week”:
“In the same week that a Florida chamber poll showed Charlie Crist leading Rubio by 11 points in the Senate race, we learn that a bank started foreclosure proceedings on Rubio’s Tallahassee home. We already knew Mr. Fiscal Conservative had reported nearly a million dollars in debt in 2008 and improperly double-billed the GOP and taxpayers for travel expenses. This is the fiscal discipline he’ll bring to Washington?”