Charlie Crist looks like he'll be declaring his independent candidacy tomorrow. I think his chances of winning are quite low. As I have pointed out, Crist will be not be the new Joe Lieberman. Crist will not have the dough and more importantly Kendrick Meek is no Alan "Gold" Schlesinger, the sacrificial Republican lamb in '06 Connecticut. But even if somehow Crist got some money, the math just does not seem there.
Looking at the four most recent polls and using the Florida electorate calculator created by my boss Mark Blumenthal, it is very difficult for me to see the path for Crist to win... even in his best case scenario.
As Nate Silver has noted, Marco Rubio is well on his way to earning 70-80% of the Republican vote in a general election. Rubio's net favorable split among Republicans was an astronomical 66/8 in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Only one of last four polls has registered Crist's support among Republicans above 30%, while the average is in the upper 20's. Expect that number to fall or stay level once Crist declares an Independent candidacy. Does anyone think undecided Republicans will flock to the candidate who deserted the party (Crist) and not the Republican they like (Rubio)?
Since 1998, no Democratic candidate for major statewide office has earned less than 78% of the Democratic vote. Even in the Jeb Bush romp of Buddy MacKay in 1998, Bush only took 21% of the Democratic vote. Crist only got 14% of Democrats in 2006. Now you may say Crist running as an independent candidate will be different. Maybe. Remember Meek, an African-American, will almost certainly win all the approximately 20% of African-American Democrats. But for arguments sake, we will say that does Crist holds the nearly 30% of Democrats polls claim he will get come November (and those polls will change as Meek brings up his very low name recognition with advertising).
Independents. Crist is in the mid to upper 30's in all the polls among his "base". So said number may rise on declaration of an independent run, but they probably will not. Why? Most independents usually lean strongly to one party or the other. It is the reason that Lieberman's numbers stayed steady among independents even after he declared an independent run in 2006.
So where does that leave us? Using the 2006 midterm electorate as a model (it worked quite well in Virginia and New Jersey in 2009 and Massachusetts in 2010) and giving Crist his most favorable electoral breakdown (30-R, 30-D, 50-I), he only gets 35% of the vote. That means, he would have to pray that Rubio and Meek literally split the rest of the vote down the middle.
Just to show you how tenuous this prayer is give Meek 2% of Republican support and understand Meek will probably take at least that much. All of a sudden, Crist takes only 34.2% of the overall vote.
It is a straw house that the big bad wolf is ready to blow over.