Polls confirm Crist’s decline, find Rand Paul has momentum, show Burr’s stuck in low 40s

Florida poll confirms Crist’s decline

The narrative of Charlie Crist’s declining fortune isn’t just driven by idle speculation: Numerous polls have confirmed that the governor is now in a far worse position than he was in the spring. The latest Florida survey to cause heartburn in the Crist camp was released last week by a group of media outlets, including The St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald and Bay News 9.  It finds only 42% of respondents giving favorable marks to Crist’s performance, while 55% say he is doing a fair or a poor job. It wasn’t so long ago Crist’s approval rating topped 60%.

In somewhat better news for the governor, he remains on top of Marco Rubio by a decisive margin - 50% to 28%, a larger lead than what mid-October polls found. That said, there is nothing here for Crist to celebrate: Given the wide name recognition gap between the two contenders, that Crist is not clearing the 50% mark is highly problematic.

In a fascinating nugget that confirms conservative anger at Crist, 71% of Republican respondents say they’d prefer to have Jeb Bush lead Florida while 23% say Crist; among the electorate at large, 46% pick the former governor and 41% the current. Remember that Rubio is an ally of Bush; even if he doesn’t manage to win his endorsement, he clearly has a lot of frustration to tap into here.

While the poll did not test general election match-ups in the Senate race, it did pit Alex Sink and Bill McCollum, finding the former ahead well within the margin of error (38% to 37%). This is only the second poll to find the Democrat with any type of lead; most recent polls (including Quinnipiac, Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen) had found McCollum ahead outside of MoE.

Rand Paul seizes the lead in Kentucky’s GOP primary

Trey Grayson has nothing in common with Dede Scozzafava, but he represents the Republican establishment versus Rand Paul’s insurgent campaign. That should be enough to make Kentucky’s Senate primary one of the many fronts of the GOP’s internal war.

A new SUSA poll confirms that this will be a real race, contrary to early expectations that Grayson would lock the GOP nomination away. That Rand Paul was within 11% of Grayson in August was already considered a strong showing, but this latest survey has him ahead - 35% to 32%. Self-identified conservatives go for Paul 39% to 31%, while moderates prefer Grayson by 8%. (Interestingly, Paul’s libertarianism also helps him with Republican voters who never go to church, among whom he leads handily.)

While Paul is competitive in the general election, he would start in a far weaker position than Grayson. While the Secretary of State leads Jack Conway 43% to 39% and crushes Dan Mongiardo 48% to 38%, Paul trails Conway 44% to 39% and ties Mongiardo at 43%.

The same discrepancy exists among Democrats: Conway might be the clearly stronger general election nominee in SUSA’s survey - independents seem to be particularly hostile to Mongiardo - but he trails in the Democratic primary 38% to 29%. While I had the impression that Mongiardo has been positioning himself to Conway’s right, he is far stronger among liberals while Conway is more competitive among moderate-to-conservative Democrats. (Note that Conway’s campaign released an internal poll showing a tighter primary, but also finding Mongiardo in the lead: 40% to 37%).

Burr still is stuck in the low 40s

Poll after poll have shown Richard Burr well under 50% and leading by lackluster margins. Most surveys have found that this is due to surprisingly low name recognition (which gives Democrats an opening) rather than to his popularity level. Yet, a new Research 2000 poll, conducted for Democratic group Change Congress, finds downright ugly numbers for the freshman senator. Only 21% of respondents say that he should win a second term; 45% say they would rather be represented by someone new. Burr’s favorability rating is no better: 39% to 46%.

Burr does lead against two Democrats: 42% to 35% against Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (who is running), 43% to 35% against Rep. Bob Etheridge (who hasn’t made up his mind). It might be good news for Burr that he’s ahead with such favorability numbers, but there is no question that it’s a sign of great vulnerability for an incumbent to be stuck in the low 40s in poll after poll. Corzine’s spent all of 2009 hovering in that range, making his defeat ultimately unsurprising.

Another interesting lesson of this survey is the lap of an electability gap between Marshall and Etheridge, which has been confirmed by other pollsters.This might not directly rebut those national Democrats who transparently believe they’d be better off with Etheridge (their concerns appear to have more to do with fundraising and ability on the trail than with popularity), but it does solidify Marshall’s hold on the nomination: It dramatically reduces the sense that Democrats are falling short recruitment-wise, which makes Etheridge less urgently desired and thus less likely to get in.

Maryland voters might consider replacing O’Malley, but Gov looks safe

A rare incumbent governor who hasn’t had too many reasons to be worried is Marty O’Malley. Not only is he running in a heavily blue state, but he looks fairly unlikely to face top-tier opposition. And yet, a new Clarus Research Group poll finds that 48% of Maryland voters say they’d like a new governor elected; 37% say O’Malley should win re-election.

Thankfully for the governor, re-elect numbers are not the end of the history. His approval rating is decent enough - 48% to 40% - that it is hard to see how him stumble: For a Republican to have a chance to win in Maryland would require that O’Malley be just as unpopular as Corzine was in New Jersey, and he is nowhere near that. Furthermore, O’Malley is leading former Governor Bob Ehrlich 47% to 40%. While any incumbent under 50% is vulnerable, that rule is less telling when the challenger is as well known as Ehrlich - not to mention that the former governor is the only prominent politician Republicans have, and he doesn’t look likely to run.

For those wondering whether Senator Barbara Mikulski has anything to worry about, well, she doesn’t: 53% of respondents want to see her re-elected, versus 36% who said they’d rather see someone new. Combine that with her 57% and 28% approval rating, and a fifth term is all but in the bag.

6 Responses to “Polls confirm Crist’s decline, find Rand Paul has momentum, show Burr’s stuck in low 40s”

  1. 1 Maurice

    I have to say that it would be disastrous for Democrats to nominate Mongiardo. Why would they nominate a more conservative person (you were right on that point, Taniel) who has worse chances at the ballot box? Beshear will probably end up coming out in Conway’s favor by the time of the primary. Plus Mongiardo’s fundraising isn’t good, and his gaffes over the summer were worse.

    On another note, I fully expect Paul to have the nomination wrapped up by the beginning of February.

  2. 2 Gerard

    If, in North Carolina Marshall and Etheridge are tied in the mid 30’s, this bodes ill for Marshall, a statewide official versus Etheridge, who represents less than 10 percent of the state and is seemingly less well known.

  3. 3 Guy

    Gerard - even though Marshall has won statewide office that doesn`t automatically mean she is well known. The only statewide officials well know are the Governor and AG. I think most people wouldn`t know the Lt Gov or any of the commissioners (Labor, Agriculture etc). So she has room to grow.

    If Burr who has won statewide office is relatively unknown then don`t expect Marshall to be.

  4. 4 Maurice


    I wouldn’t say it bodes ill for her (even though I’d rather have Etheridge as a Senator), as an SoS has little publicity, and what they do get is not on the political side. Not like a Gov. or AG to be sure.

    One good thing for Democrats is that self-funding won’t be an issue.

    BTW, living in Idaho, I’m surprised I never knew that Risch was so stinking rich (somewhere around $65 million, like Alan Grayson, and in the top 15 or 20), or that Walt Minnick has the power to self-fund (around $8-10 million (YAAYY!)).

  5. 5 Maurice

    Hey Guy- We must have posted those (quite similar) messages seconds apart. I just noticed that when I checked back.

  6. 6 Guy

    Maurice - “Great minds think alike” or “fools never differ”!!

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