In January 2011, one Floridian will leave for the U.S. Senate. He is unlikely to be a former governor at odds with his party's nominating electorate, or the probable Democratic nominee, Kendrick Meek, a hyper-liberal congressman. Rubio intends to prove that "in the most important swing state, you can run successfully as a principled conservative." He probably will.
If the straw polls taken around the state by Republican County Committees are any indication, Rubio will indeed defeat Crist. In fact, since my last round-up of FL-GOP straw polls, which included the following rundown:
Pasco County: Rubio wins, 73-9
Lee County: Rubio wins, "7-to-1 margin" [60-9]
Highlands County: Rubio wins, 75-1
Bay County: Rubio wins, 23-2
Volusia County: GOP Committee censures Crist
Palm Beach County: GOP Committee almost censures Crist as motion fails on a 65-65 tie, still a stinging rebuke
Broward County: GOP Committee attempts a straw poll, blocked only by Crist acolyte eager to avoid embarrassment for Crist
we can add Florida's Hernando County GOP Committee to the list. Fernando County is a "poor (median income- $32,572), very white rural area north of Tampa" whose County GOP just backed Rubio in a straw poll over Crist by a vote of 46-0. Yup, 46-0. To that, we can also add:
Marion County: Rubio 40, Crist 8
Gilchrist County: Rubio 11, Crist 1
GOP Women's Club of Duval Federated: Rubio 65, Crist 4
Northwest Orange GOP Women Federated: Rubio 49, Crist 3
Jefferson County GOP: Rubio 30, Crist 6
Florida Federation of College Republicans: Rubio 19, Crist 6
If you add up the eleven straw polls conducted, the total is Rubio 491, Crist 49. In other words, among recorded Republican activists in Florida, Rubio is crushing Crist by just over a 10-to-1 margin. But Crist has the support of the Republican "establishment." To which Rubio says:
"If you are unhappy with the Republican establishment, then let's get a new establishment."
Rubio may be well on his way to accomplishing just that in the FL-GOP.