Democrats will get their stronger candidate if Kendrick Meek wins the Florida Senate primary tonight as expected- but the biggest winner coming out of the primary may be Marco Rubio. PPP finds he would begin the general election in the lead at 40%, followed by Charlie Crist at 32%, and Meek at 17%. If Jeff Greene were somehow able to pull off the upset tonight it would be much closer with Rubio at 37%, Crist at 36%, and Greene at only 13%.
PPP's last poll of the race in mid-July found Crist in the lead at 35% to 29% for Rubio and 17% for Meek. Two major developments have shifted the race in Rubio's direction though. The first is that Democrats are now going for Meek 39-38 where before they were going for Crist 44-35. As Democrats have gotten to know Meek over the course of the primary campaign they've generally decided they like him and that's cut into Crist's support for the general election.
The other big difference is that many Republican voters have moved off the fence and they've almost universally moved into the Rubio column. Where Rubio had a 54-23 lead with GOP voters in July, it's now increased to 69-20. Many Republicans were up in the air between Crist and Rubio previously but whatever they've seen over the last month has moved them more firmly into the Rubio column.
Crist's support continues to show an awkward balance that may ultimately make victory for him impossible. 57% of those planning to vote for him if Meek is the nominee think he should caucus with the Democrats in the Senate if elected while 28% think he should side with the Republicans. He's more likely to find the additional support he needs to get elected from Democrats than Republicans, but can he do that without losing the 20% of Republicans who are still with him? Whether he finds a way to thread that needle or not will probably determine his fate.
For now Rubio's in his strongest position since Crist quit the Republican race and decided to run as an independent.
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