Election 2010: Florida Republican Primary for Senate

Florida Senate GOP Primary: Rubio 56%, Crist 34%

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio is now even further ahead of Governor Charlie Crist in the race for Florida’s Republican Senate nomination.

A new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of likely Republican Primary voters shows Rubio with a 56% to 34% lead over Crist. Only one percent (1%) prefer some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) remain undecided.

The two candidates were tied in December, but Rubio has been gaining momentum since. In January, Rubio moved out to a 49% to 37% lead. Last month, he posted a 54% to 36% advantage over Crist. In August, Crist had 53% support.

The latest numbers show Rubio has not lost any ground despite recent questions about his office expenditures while in the state legislature.

Crist insists he's staying in the race as a Republican rather than running as an independent as some have suggested. The first Rasmussen Reports survey of a potential three-way Senate race shows Rubio earning 45% of the vote to likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek's 25%, with Crist in third at 22%.

Florida Republicans will pick their nominee in an August 24 primary. You can check the latest Florida polling updates and other news every day on the Rasmussen Reports Florida Page.

The Rasmussen Reports Media Meter service measures coverage of political figures, celebrities, sports teams, and more. The table below shows the Plus-Minus rating for Republican Candidate Marco Rubio. Roll your mouse over the graphic and you’ll see the percentage of positive and negative coverage for Rubio over the past week. You can also see the number of positive or negative articles featuring Rubio. This table will be updated daily.

Here are the Plus-Minus ratings for Governor Charlie Crist. Remember, these figures measure the media coverage, not voter opinions. In the near future, Premium Members will have access to additional Media Meter data and the ability to interact with the meter to select different time frames and other parameters. These figures reflect all coverage of the Governor, not just coverage related to the campaign.

Rubio has gained more support from women this month and now leads Crist 50% to 34% after the candidates were tied last month. Rubio continues to hold a strong lead among men.

Crist, an early favorite in the race, was the choice of the party establishment but angered conservatives when he was one of the few Republicans to endorse President Obama’s $787-billion economic stimulus plan. Rubio, initially a long-shot contender, was quickly embraced by the so-called Tea Party movement, and Crist’s support has been falling ever since.

Crist is viewed very favorably by just 15% of likely Republican Primary voters, while 10% view him very unfavorably.

Republicans feel more strongly about Rubio, with 39% who regard the former House speaker very favorably. Only five percent (5%) view Rubio very unfavorably.

Yet while just one percent (1%) have no opinion of Crist, 16% of primary voters still don't know Rubio well enough to express even a soft favorable or unfavorable view of him.

At this stage of the campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the very favorable and very unfavorable figures more significant than the overall favorability totals.

Republicans also remain evenly divided in their opinions of the governor’s job performance. While 49% approve of Crist’ performance, 48% disapprove. These ratings are nearly identical to those found a month ago.

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. Last 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.