An imaginary Charlie Crist campaign to return to the governor’s office was doing much better in the polls against Florida Gov. Rick Scott than the real thing.
A Quinnipac University poll released Thursday found Republican incumbent Scott trailing Republican-turned-Democrat Crist by only 7 points three weeks after Crist officially announced his widely expected campaign.
The poll found Crist ahead 47 percent to 40 percent among registered voters. That compares to a 47-37 percent lead in June and a 16-point lead of 50 percent to 34 percent in March.
“Former Gov. Charlie Crist remains ahead in the race to be the state’s next governor, but his lead over incumbent Rick Scott has narrowed since March,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“But Crist still does better among Democrat than Scott does among Republicans, and holds his own among indpedendents. The winner will be the one who does best among his own partisans and carries independents.”
The poll found Crist the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination against former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, 60 percent to 12 percent.
In a head-to-head matchup, Scott beat Rich 43-35, the poll found.
In job approval, Scott’s numbers fell to 42 percent approve versus 47 percent disapprove, down from his June approval rating of 43 percent approve to 44 percent disapprove. Voters approve the job Crist did as governor 53-36, according to Quinnipiac.
The poll found Crist’s party-switching to be a wash, with voters split evenly at 46-46 on whether the move was positive or negative.
“Voters currently think Crist was a good governor and are evenly split on whether they see his party switching as evidence he is a pragmatist or lacks core beliefs,” Brown said.
“To catch Crist, Scott is going to have to convince Florida voters that Crist was a bad governor and a political opportunist.”
In a statement, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said the party just needs to remind voters of Scott’s record in office compared to his predecessor.
“When it comes to the No. 1 issue on the minds of Floridians, jobs and the economy, our focus to is to make sure that Floridians know the successful record of Rick Scott and the disastrous record of Charlie Crist,” Curry said. “While Charlie Crist supports policies like Obamacare that harm our economy, Rick Scott has implemented policies that hae put Florida ahead of the rest of the nation when it comes to job creation.”
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