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Meek’s Campaign Makes Case for Path to Victory With New Poll

Updated: 1:14 p.m.While a new poll from Rep. Kendrick Meek showed the Florida Democrat losing by 16 points to Gov. Charlie Crist (R) in the 2010 Senate race, the survey also provides some insight into how Meek will try to break into that lead over the next year.After what Meek pollster Diane Feldman called “mood questions— about Florida’s economic problems and how much influence the governor has on the state’s economy, Crist led Meek 51 percent to 35 percent in a head-to-head matchup. The telephone survey of 800 likely voters was conducted by the Feldman Group for Meek’s campaign Sept. 23-28 and had a 4-point margin of error.Meek’s campaign didn’t release any numbers on how the Congressman would fare in a matchup against Crist’s primary opponent, former state Speaker Marco Rubio, who has been gaining some traction by running to the right of Crist. Meek’s camp acknowledged during a meeting with reporters Wednesday that they are working under the assumption that they will face Crist next year.With that in mind, Meek’s survey polled voters on a theme that Democrats have pushed when discussing Crist’s run for Senate, namely that the state’s chief executive is abandoning ship when it comes to his gubernatorial duties as he works to further his national political ambitions.Crist’s term ends in January 2011, but that hasn’t stopped Democrats from calling him a political opportunist ever since he announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t seek a second term as governor.Meek’s poll asked respondents how strongly they agreed with the statement that “Crist is putting his political ambitions ahead of the people of Florida by leaving in the middle of his term.—And how they felt about the idea that “Crist may be a good guy but he’s not doing what he could to bring back the Florida economy.—Meek’s camp also acknowledged Wednesday that Meek’s path to victory lies in painting Crist as “a figure of federal Republicans in Washington,— as Feldman put it.Under that scenario, Crist will be forced to increasingly embrace national Republican policies, especially as he comes under more pressure from his conservative base in the coming months because of his primary. And while Crist was a key ally of President Barack Obama as he went around the country to sell his economic stimulus plan, Meek’s camp expects to capitalize on his subsequent movement to the right. The poll found that 60 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Obama, a number that is above the national average and could bolster Meek if it holds up on Election Day. However, 56 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Crist, according to the poll.Meanwhile, 51 percent of voters said Obama was doing an excellent or good job as president while 47 percent of voters said the same of Crist.“Crist’s job performance rating is now lower than Obama’s,— Feldman wrote in her polling memo, adding that “Crist’s ratings are lower than they have been historically in part because voters hold him responsible for failing to address economic conditions in Florida.—

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