New poll: Crist, Rubio in dead heatby Dara Kam | December 16th, 2009
Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio are in a dead heat in the GOP race for the U.S. Senate, according to a poll released this morning.
The Rasmussen Reports telephone survey found Crist and Rubio in a 43-43 percent tie among likely Republican primary voters.
Crist’s lead over Rubio dropped 10 percent in the same poll since August. And the governor’s popularity is at an all-time low, with just 19 percent of respondents having a “very favorable” opinion of him.
Earlier this year, Rubio, the first Cuban-American House Speaker, was considered a long-shot in the race.
But conservative support – including the endorsement of The Club for Growth and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina – has rallied Rubio’s campaign and drawn national attention to the Florida primary, viewed as a test of the rising “Tea Party” movement and characterizing the fight for the control of the party between moderates and conservatives.
Crist and other GOP leaders have angered Republican conservative base voters who typically show up at the polls to vote in primaries.
This summer, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer – hand-picked by Crist – snubbed Rubio by endorsing Crist and discouraging primaries that he said weaken the party’s ability to win in the general election.
Crist alienated conservatives by applauding President Barack Obama’s stimulus package symbolized by the now-infamous “man-hug” with the Democratic president.
And he raised eyebrows in August when he appointed his longtime advisor and right-hand-man George LeMieux to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who retired before his term ended.
The winner of next year’s primary is likely to face off against Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is gathering petition signatures to get onto the ballot.