Rasmussen: Rubio regains narrow lead over Crist

The topsy-turvy Senate race in Florida has reversed itself again, according to the latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters in the Sunshine State.  Marco Rubio has retaken the lead after Charlie Crist’s indy bounce seems to be dissipating.  The presumed Democratic nominee, Kendrick Meek, remains mired in the background:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Florida finds the two candidates neck-and-neck again this month, with Rubio earning 36% support and Crist, the state’s current Republican governor, capturing 34% of the vote. Prospective Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek remains a distant third, picking up 15%. Fourteen percent (14%) of the state’s voters remain undecided.

A month ago, Rubio, former speaker of the Florida House, and Crist were tied at 37% apiece. Meek, an African-American congressman from the North Miami area, again was at 15%.

Crist, who opted in early May to run as an independent when Rubio began to run away with the Republican Primary race, bounced to a modest lead – and his highest level of support at 38% – following that announcement. Rubio’s support in the same period has ranged from 34% to 39%. Meek hit a high of 22% in the three-way race in April but has lost ground since then.

If it’s not Meek but Jeff Greene who gets the Democratic nomination, Crist loses a little support:

If Meek’s Democratic Primary challenger, billionaire real estate Jeff Greene, is their opponent, Rubio gets 37% of the vote to Crist’s 33%. Greene earns 18% support, while 12% remain undecided. Crist’s support is down eight points from the previous survey, while Greene is up five.

Essentially, the race is mainly unchanged from last month in the demographics, showing no great impact over the last four weeks.  In the last poll, Crist barely edged Rubio among independents by three points; this month, it’s two (37/35).  Crist lost eleven points among Democrats, which shows that his efforts to veer to the Left may not hold great promise of building a Democrat-based coalition to win the election.  Crist’s favorability dropped six points as well, from 62/37 to 56/42.  The glow of “independence” for the former establishment-endorsed Republican seems to be fading.

On the other hand, Rubio seems to be holding his own despite not being active in the period.  His favorability went up to 51/41, the topline up from last month’s 46/38 and over the 50% mark.  The issues still favor Rubio and play against Crist’s sudden affinity for Democrats.  Florida voters want ObamaCare repealed (57/37) and oppose the Obama administration’s effort to block Arizona’s immigration enforcement law (60/28).

Rubio hasn’t lost anything by keeping his powder dry, and that’s bad news for Crist.  He needs to be seen as a viable contender against Rubio to keep Democrats in his coalition.  If he keeps sliding, Democrats will eventually (if unenthusiastically) come home to Meek or Greene — as they probably will anyway, regardless of Crist’s performance, as the election nears.