No wonder Charlie Crist wants to talk about back waxing. That may be his new profession after the Florida primaries, thanks to a massive outpouring of Republican support for his opponent, Marco Rubio. Public Policy Polling warned of an explosive new survey yesterday, but a 32-point deficit isn’t just explosive — it’s probably fatal to Crist’s career:
Rubio now leads Crist 60-28, including a staggering 71-17 lead with conservatives. Crist has a 49-36 advantage with party moderates, but they account for just 31% of likely primary voters compared to 65% who describe themselves as conservative.
Rubio is benefiting from a widely held sentiment among Florida GOP voters that Congressional Republicans are too liberal and that Crist would add to the problem. 41% of them think that the party leadership in Washington is too liberal, and with those folks Rubio holds an 83-10 lead. 50% think that Crist himself is too liberal and with those voters Rubio’s advantage expands even wider to 90-5.
It also looks like it’s too late for Crist to audible and make another run for Governor. GOP voters say they’d prefer likely nominee Bill McCollum over Crist by a 49-35 margin. In fact Republicans generally just want Crist to go away- 56% say they’d like him out of office a year from now to 19% who’d like to see him continue as Governor and only 14% who want him in the Senate.
Crist’s biggest problem is that 56% of Republican primary voters disapprove of the job he’s doing as Governor to just 29% who approve. Any time that disapproval figure goes over 50% it means you have to actively change voters’ minds about you to have any success, and that’s a tall order.
Crist makes it even more tall by speculating on back waxes rather than repairing his own image. He has no one to blame but himself for the collapse of his support among conservatives. Crist actively undermined conservatives by campaigning for Barack Obama’s Porkulus package last year and attempting to argue that he was pushing for America’s success rather than ideological victories. He got neither, and now wants to run away from his record and focus on hair salons instead.
That won’t convince the 56% of Republicans who want Crist out of office altogether. Only 14% want him in the Senate, and despite his previous popularity as Governor, only 19% want to see him return to that spot, too. As far as an independent run, that seems unlikely to work. Fifteen percent would support him dumping his party affiliation, but more — 26% — think he should become a Democrat.
Tomorrow, PPP will release its numbers for the general election, which have been rather favorable until now for Rubio. With Crist sinking fast, he can start concentrating on his Democratic opponent and ignore Crist — which is a strange position for a sitting governor to find himself.
Update: It’s worth remembering that PPP did a pretty poor job of predicting the NY-23 race last year, but special elections are hard to poll. This is a more straightforward survey to do.