Crist's indie bump disappears

Almost two weeks ago, Charlie Crist rode his declaration of independence to his first lead ever in the three-way Florida race for the US Senate. It didn’t take long to dissipate. Rasmussen’s latest polling on the race now shows Crist fading sharply to second place, losing twelve points in the gap in as many days:

Charlie Crist received a bounce in the polls when he left the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. New numbers suggest that the bounce for the governor is over.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Florida finds Republican Marco Rubio with 39% support, while Crist earns 31% of the vote and Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 18%. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.

Two weeks ago, just after Crist announced that he was running as an independent, he held a 38% to 34% advantage over Rubio.

At the time of the last poll, I pointed out the ways in which Crist’s rise had no long-term support. He mainly got the boost from independents despite their earlier support for Rubio. However, on the issues, Crist matched up poorly with unaffiliated voters, especially on offshore drilling and ObamaCare repeal.

A look at the internals of the new Rasmussen poll shows that independents have begun moving back to Rubio, but not necessarily leaving Crist. Twelve days ago, Crist won the indie split 40/28 as unaffiliated voters gave Crist a fresh look. That has now changed to 41/38 Crist, within the margin of error.

It’s not the only demographic in which Crist has lost momentum. Two weeks ago, Crist had a ten-point lead among women, 40/30. Now it’s down to half of that, 37/32. Rubio barely edged Crist among men in that earlier poll, 38/36, but now has a commanding lead of 47/24. Crist only bests Rubio in the youngest age demographic, 40/13, but that gain came at the expense of Kendrick Meek, who took 45% in that demo two weeks ago.

If Crist hoped to get Republicans to come along for the ride, the new poll has bad news there as well.  Rubio had a 28-point lead immediately after Crist went independent, 58/30.  Now Republicans go with Rubio by 45 points, 68/23.  Crist also lost 12 points among Democrats, going from 44% to 32%, allowing Meek to rise from 35% to 38% among his own party’s voters.

That’s just after two weeks as an independent, during which Crist managed to laugh at the notion of refunding donations from former supporters who were under the impression that Crist would be loyal to his party affiliation — something that happened at the very end of the polling.  Expect those numbers to slide further as Democrats eventually come home to Meek or Jeff Greene, a candidate that was not included in Rasmussen’s survey.