Rubio, Crist tied in new Rasmussen poll

This could be a long summer in Florida.  Six weeks ago, Charlie Crist rode a publicity bump from his announcement on going independent to a lead in the three-way Senate race.  A couple of weeks later, Marco Rubio returned to the lead.  Today, Rasmussen’s survey splits the difference and puts both men in a tie for the lead:

Republican Marco Rubio and Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist are tied this month in Florida’s topsy-turvy race for the U.S. Senate.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Sunshine State finds Rubio and Crist each earning 37% of the vote, while Democratic hopeful Kendrick Meek trails with 15% support. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided. …

Sixty percent (60%) of Florida voters now approve of the job Crist is doing as governor, up three points from a month ago. Thirty-seven percent (37%) disapprove. As governor, Crist has been very visible in addressing the Gulf Oil Spill

Still, 39% of all voters in the state say Crist will be hurt most by the ongoing investigation of alleged financial irregularities in the state Republican Party, while 31% think Rubio will be hurt the most.

The candidate with the most egg on his face right now is Kendrick Meek.  Had Meek shown any talent as a top-flight candidate, he would be exploiting the split on the Right to at least contend for the lead.  Instead, he’s within the margin of error with None of the Above/Undecided.

Why does Meek do so poorly?  Crist so far has stolen his base.  Crist gets 47% of the Democratic vote, while Meek only gets 28%.  Crist also gets 41% of the independents, while Rubio comes within the MOE at 38%.  Meek only gets 18% of independents and comes in third.  Crist still gets 24% of the Republican vote, with Rubio getting 66%.  If Democrats stick with Crist, he will have a powerful advantage in the fall.  If Democrats eventually come home to Meek, though, Crist will be toast.

Crist still wins the favorability contest as well.  He scores 62/37, suggesting that his series of policy reversals hasn’t hurt him … yet.  Rubio only gets a 46/38, with 16% unsure (only 1% are undecided about Crist).  Meek is underwater at 30/39, with 31% unsure, giving him the most upside but having a long way to go to get there.

The issues still favor Rubio.  Fifty-six percent want ObamaCare repealed, and a plurality of 42% opposes a prohibition of offshore drilling in Florida.  Obama is sinking in Florida with a 46/53 approval rating, and a whopping 78% believe that the bigger problem in Florida is not taxpayers unwilling to give their fair share but politicians unwilling to control government spending.  It may take Floridians to make up their minds which candidate represents those views best, but hopefully they reach the right conclusion.  At the very least, they’ve already discounted Meek, and that’s a start.

Update: Quinnipiac has it 37-33 for Crist over Rubio with registered voters.  They also show 51/42 opposition to new offshore drilling in Florida.  (via Randy Scudder on Twitter)