New poll numbers from Florida's high-profile Republican Senate primary race add credence to the theory that the only way Gov. Charlie Crist will win the seat is by switching parties.
The firm Public Policy Polling released findings on Tuesday showing conservative darling Marco Rubio with a jaw-dropping 32-point lead (62 percent to 28 percent) among Florida Republican voters.
Rubio now leads Crist 71 to 17 among conservative voters. And while Crist enjoys a 49-36 advantage among party moderates, they only account for less than a third of likely primary voters, PPP notes.
Crist is suffering from poor perceptions of his tenure as governor, with 56 percent of Republican primary voters saying they disapprove of the job he has done and only 29 percent approving. Florida, like much of the nation, is suffering from a prolonged unemployment crisis in addition to a debilitating foreclosure problem. And yet, that Crist willingly accepted stimulus cash to help deal with these problems has only angered conservatives further.
Crist's defenders still insist that they don't see the governor switching party affiliations as a means for political survival, with the most die-hard backers continuing to insist that Crist could pull out a win.
"I think he will," Sen. George LeMieux, who was temporarily appointed by Crist to the Senate seat after Mel Martinez resigned, told MSNBC on Tuesday morning. "I mean I think it will be close race... As you know, in Florida it is hard to underestimate Charlie Crist."