Neither of the top candidates for Governor of Florida is particularly well known or liked but with the national political winds blowing in a Republican direction Bill McCollum has the solid early lead.
McCollum's currently at 44% to 31% for Alex Sink. He leads her 38-25 with independent voters and is winning 20% of the Democratic vote while holding Sink to just 11% of the Republican vote.
McCollum's advantage is hardly an indication of a Florida electorate in love with him. 50% of voters in the state say they don't know enough about him to have an opinion and among those who do 25% view him favorably with 26% holding an unfavorable opinion. Sink is comparatively anonymous- an identical 50% have no opinion about her with 23% holding a positive one and 27% a negative one.
The high levels of ambivalence may seem unusual given that both hold statewide office and that this is McCollum's fourth statewide run in the last ten years but down ballot state officials don't tend to be very well known, particularly in a state as large as Florida.
If Charlie Crist decided to make another run for Governor and could somehow win the Republican nomination he would be an even bigger favorite over Sink, leading her 47-27. Crist actually gets 33% of the Democratic vote under such a scenario compared to only 45% for Sink. That's a very unusual level of crossover support but unfortunately for Crist the things that make him popular with Democrats have now made him unpopular with Republicans and virtually unelectable in a party primary.
This race could change a lot over the next eight months as the voters become more familiar with the candidates but for now it looks like the Republican hold on the Florida Governor's office will extend to 16 years.
Full results here