Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crist's Future

There hasn't been a lot of good news for Charlie Crist this year but as he prepares to leave office here's a little piece of it: he's actually finishing up with the best approval numbers PPP has found for him all year. 50% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 39% who disapprove. Starting in March his approval numbers in five previous PPP polls this year were 35%, 44%, 42%, 47%, and 41%.

Crist has stratospheric numbers with independents at 70% approving of him to only 26% disapproving. That's the highest approval with them PPP has found for any politician this year, even Joe Manchin couldn't match that. His Senate campaign coming to an end also seems to have earned Crist some forgiveness with Republicans. He's still mostly unpopular with them now at 36% approval to 54% disapproval, but that's well up from a 23/64 spread in late October. He's actually seen some slippage with Democrats though, from 59% approval right before the election to now 54%.

Crist may have a political future but if he does it's in the Democratic Party. 35% of voters in the state say they would definitely not vote for him in a campaign somewhere down the road. But 26% say they definitely would and 36% are at least open to the possibility. Any thought that he might try to go back to being a Republican can probably be put aside by the fact that 50% of GOP voters say they would never vote for Crist ever again- that's a pretty brutal starting point in a primary contest.

That leaves the options of going the independent route again- which he presumably saw the perils of this year- or just becoming a Democrat. 27% of Democrats say they'd definitely vote for Crist in a future campaign and 43% are open to it with only 25% ruling out the possibility. So that's where his best chances in the future lie and wouldn't a Crist-Scott contest in 2014 be fascinating...although Crist's odd choice to run for the Senate this year would suggest that maybe being Governor wasn't his cup of tea.

Speaking of Scott, Floridians' negative attitudes toward him have thawed out at least a little bit as he prepares to take office. He's still unpopular with 33% of voters seeing him favorably to 43% with a negative opinion but that's a little better than the day before he was elected when we found 54% of voters seeing him unfavorably to a pretty identical 34% with a favorable view. A lot of Democrats in particular have moved from the unfavorable to the 'not sure' column when it comes to their feelings about Scott, suggesting that they're at least giving him a chance. Still there is little doubt that he's the most unpopular newly elected Governor in the country and his election may have been the greatest testament anywhere to how down on Democrats voters were this year.

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