06/15/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Charlie Crist Could Win Election As An Independent (POLL)

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) could win his state's race for U.S. Senate if he were to run as an independent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday.

While Crist trails former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio by 23 points in the state's Republican primary battle, "in a three-way general election with Rubio on the GOP line, Crist as an independent and Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Crist has a razor-thin edge."

Quinnipiac University's findings indicate that in a general election match-up, Crist tops Meek 48%-34%. Rubio also leads Meek in a head-to-head scenario, but by a much slimmer margin of 42%-38%.

Last week, Crist denied that he would ditch Florida's Republican primary amid reports that he was considering doing so to help his chances of winning the election.

"To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican. He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation," Crist campaign manager Erik Eikenberg said in a statement.

A week later speculation continues.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Crist is being urged by advisors and supporters to run as an independent: "Hounded by conservative activists as too liberal, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is being advised by some close supporters to abandon his lagging Republican primary bid for a U.S. Senate seat and run instead as an independent."

In a three-way general election scenario, Quinnipiac University's new poll finds:

  • Crist would get 30 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independent voters;
  • Rubio would receive 64 percent of GOP votes, 5 percent from Democrats and 29 percent of independents;
  • Meek, a congressman from South Florida, would get 55 percent of Democratic votes, 15 percent of independents and no Republicans.

Whether an independent senate run is in the cards for Crist remains unclear; however, an informal adviser to the Florida governor tells the Wall Street Journal, "If you were to put a gun to my head, I'd say he's running as an independent."