Former state Speaker Marco Rubio is statistically tied with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the latest poll from Quinnipiac University testing the high-profile GOP Senate primary in the Sunshine State.
Rubio took 47 percent to Crist’s 44 percent, according to a survey of 673 Republicans taken Jan. 20-24. That 3-point lead fell just inside the survey’s 3.8-point margin of error.
Rubio was also ahead of the Democrat frontrunner, Rep. Kendrick Meek, 44 percent to 35 percent, in a hypothetical general election matchup. Crist performed slightly better against Meek, taking 48 percent to 36 percent in the general election test. The survey of 1,618 Florida voters had a 2.4-point margin of error.
Rubio’s lead in the primary represents a major turnaround from a June Quinnipiac survey that showed Crist with a 54 percent to 23 percent lead. As late as October, the governor had a 50 percent to 35 percent lead over Rubio, according to another Quinnipiac poll in the Sunshine State.
Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, credited Rubio’s grass-roots campaigning among Republican activists around the state for his success since last summer.
Meanwhile “it is a reasonable assumption that the anger towards incumbents we are seeing around the country has hurt the Governor, who is the virtual incumbent in this race,— Brown said in Quinnipiac’s polling memo released Tuesday.
Rubio earned a 53 percent to 4 percent favorability rating among Republican voters, while 42 percent said they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Among independents, 34 percent rate him favorably, 13 percent see him unfavorably and 52 percent do not know enough about him.
Crist was viewed favorably by 64 percent of Republicans, and 27 percent viewed him unfavorably. When it comes to independents, 51 percent view him favorably and 36 percent view him unfavorably. Just 50 percent of all voters approve of the way Crist is handling his job as governor while 38 percent disapprove. That number is down from 59 percent to 31 percent in the October poll.