The latest Rasmussen poll in Florida shows Charlie Crist has surged into the lead.
Half or more of Meeks' support has moved to Crist. It is clear that Crist will attack Rubio for 6 months (his only real threat), and argue that he is the moderate reasonable guy fighting two more highly partisan candidates.
I think Crist could win, though I think Rubio is a slight favorite. Crist is a bit of a megalomaniac, and he may see this centrist strategy as creating a path for a third party run for president.
That's delusional to be sure, but he never would have decided not to run for re-election for governor, and instead seek a Senate seat if he did not have the White House in mind.
This poll is evidence that movement conservatives in Florida may be a majority of the GOP, but are nowhere near a majority of the electorate. Independents move left or right, and determine the winner each year in competitive state races.
Rubio has some advantages: the party machinery will be there to help him get out the vote, and Crist has lost the Democrats' GOTV apparatus. Also, Crist may not be such a great fund raiser without party designation, and may have to return some money he has already raised.
The GOP needs to hope Meeks does not completely collapse. Then Crist becomes the candidate of the left and the center, and that is enough to win. It is how Joe Lieberman won his Senate race in 2006 -- as candidate of the center and right.
Thomas Lifson adds:
I think Rubio has the potential to be a great communicator in Florida (and beyond). I believe that the voting public is focused on issues that break conservative: federal spending, debt, ObamaCare, taxes, and national security. Crist's lack of principle may come back and bite him.
Democrats can't formally abandoned a black candidate. It is simply not acceptable to their most important voting block for them to do so.
Richard Baehr adds:
There may be a floor in the 10-15% range for Meeks. Whites and Hispanics appear to have already bolted. Blacks are 15% of florida voters, but Meeks does not excite them as Obama did. I doubt they will be 15% of voters this year.