While Rick Scott's off to a terrible start as Governor, Marco Rubio's initial approval numbers after nearly three months in the Senate are looking good. 43% of voters give him good marks for his work so far to 31% who disapprove. That already makes him the state's more popular Senator- numbers on Bill Nelson that we'll release tomorrow show him with a 38/34 approval rating.
Rubio's managed to keep strong support from within his own party without antagonizing voters across party lines too, too much. 70% of Republicans approve of him to 10% who disapprove. He doesn't have a ton of support from Democrats- only 17% approval- but he hasn't turned them against him on a broad scale either. Only 51% of them disapprove of him, compared to 81% for Rick Scott. That suggests they're at least giving him a chance. And he's on positive ground with independents at 44/31.
Our average approval rating for a US Senator in the second half of 2010 came out to a +3 spread. Rubio's +12 to date puts him well ahead of the curve.
We also took a look at how Floridians feel about Charlie Crist several months after he left office. 46% of them have a favorable opinion of him while 42% rate him negatively. Democrats like him (59/28), Republicans don't (33/57), and independents are split right down the middle (44/44). If he was ever to run for office again 39% of voters think he should do it as a Democrat, 36% think he should do it as an independent, and only 12% think he should do it as a Republican.
It's very clear that Crist has no home in the Republican Party- only 19% of GOP voters say they would want him to run as one of their own. What might be most interesting is the ideology numbers on Crist's future party. Voters describing themselves as 'very liberal' think Crist should be a Democrat, as do voters describing themselves as 'very conservative.' Moderates and voters identifying just as 'somewhat' liberal or conservative think Crist should stay in the independent ranks. It's pretty unusual for us to find the far left and the far right in agreement on anything with folks in the middle taking a different view but Crist has had a consistent ability for better or worse to defy all political norms.
Full results here