Following the resignation of Senator Mel Martinez, a heated race developed in the Republican primary, with Florida’s current Governor Charlie Crist against former State Speaker of the House, Marco Rubio.
Crist’s moderate label vs. Rubio’s staunch conservative stances elevated the primary race to a national spectacle. Crist’s embrace of Obama’s stimulus package sparked commentary from national media, including Joe Scarborough of MSNBC and JOSH KRAUSHAAR of Politico.com
In Kraushaar’s article, GOP could win 3 key Senate seats, John Dowless predicted a formidable challenge from the financial underdog, Marco Rubio.
John Dowless, a Republican media consultant in Florida, added that Rubio would be a dynamite fundraiser who would receive overwhelming support from the sizable Republican Cuban-American community in a primary.
Having Jeb Bush as an ally would also be an asset. “It’s not a bad thing to be Bush-light in a primary,” said Dowless.
Judging from the latest numbers from a Rasmussen Crist vs. Rubio poll, Dowless’ prediction was very accurate. Poll results had Rubio with a 12-point lead over Crist, with a 49% -37%, a staggering figure considering Crist’s substantial cash advantage, name recognition and first year approval ratings. An excerpt from the Rasmussen story: Election 2010: Florida Republican Primary for Senate, elaborates on the poll results:
The new numbers mark a stunning turnaround. Crist was the strong favorite when he first announced for the Senate seat, and Rubio was viewed as a long-shot challenger.But Crist’s support fell from 53% in August to 49% in October. By December, the two men were tied at 43% apiece.
Rubio leads Crist by 17 points among men and by seven among women. He also carries 52% of the conservative GOP vote, while moderates prefer Crist. Crist’s fortunes appear to be tied in part to national unhappiness over President Obama and his policies. Many conservatives began rebelling against Crist when he became one of the few Republican governors to embrace Obama’s $787-billion economic stimulus plan last year.