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Election 2010: Florida Republican Primary for Senate
Florida GOP Senate: Rubio 49%, Crist 37%
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Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio has now jumped to a 12-point lead over Governor Charlie Crist in Florida’s Republican Primary race for the U.S. Senate.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely GOP Primary voters in the state finds Rubio leading Crist 49% to 37%. Three percent (3%) prefer another candidate, and 11% are undecided.

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.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

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. The national Republican party establishment endorsed Crist early on, but a number of prominent national party conservatives have since announced their support for Rubio. Nationally, the GOP’s Florida Senate race is being watched as a test of the new “Tea Party” mood among many conservative and traditionally Republican voters.

In Florida's Senate general election contest, Crist and Rubio both hold a double-digit lead over their likely Democratic opponent, Congressman Kendrick Meek, in the latest Rasmussen Reports polling of likely voters in the state.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of GOP Primary voters have a favorable view of Crist while 37% regard the governor unfavorably. Those figures include 19% with a very favorable opinion and 11% who have a very unfavorable view of him.

Rubio is viewed favorably by 67% of primary voters and unfavorably by only14%. These numbers include 35% with a very favorable opinion of the Cuban-American candidate versus four percent (4%) with a very unfavorable view.

Perhaps more telling for Crist is that just 56% of Republican Primary voters approve of the job he is now doing as governor. Forty-three percent (43%) disapprove of his job performance.

Both men are vying to be the Republican nominee in this year’s race to fill the seat originally vacated by retiring GOP Senator Mel Martinez. In August, Crist as governor named his chief of staff, George LeMiuex, to serve the remainder of Martinez’s term, but LeMieux is not running for a full term. Florida’s Republican Primary is scheduled for August 24.

Democratic Senate incumbents who currently trail their challengers include Harry Reid in Nevada, Michael Bennet in Colorado, Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. Barbara Boxer from California, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin find themselves in more competitive races than usual.

Republicans lead open-seat Senate races in Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Ohio. Democrats lead in Connecticut, and the race is close in Illinois. North Carolina incumbent Republican Senator Richard Burr is ahead but potentially vulnerable. Following last month's upset GOP Senate win in Massachusetts, political analyst Larry Sabato wrote that if the election were held today, “The (59-seat) Democratic majority in the Senate would be reduced to just 52 seats.”

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See survey questions and toplines. Crosstabs are available to Premium Members only.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports Election Edge™ Premium Service offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage available anywhere.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.

Florida Survey of 449 Likely GOP Primary Voters
January 27, 2010

2010 Florida GOP Senate Primary

Charlie Crist

37%

Marco Rubio

49%

Some Other Candidate

3%

Not Sure

11%

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