Florida is a large and aggressively contested state. It, of all states, demands the clarity of traditional horserace polling. We have been denied that opportunity yet, though, because the Republicans still need a candidate for Governor and the Democrats still need a candidate for Senate.
Quinnpiac’s poll suggests we may get answers soon, as late entering political novices Rick Scott and Jeff Greene take leads, showing clear daylight between the candidates in each primary.
In the Republican race for Governor, Rick Scott was a surprise late entry against formerly-presumptive nominee Bill McCollum. Scott now leads, per Qunnipiac, 43-32 (MoE 3.6), which gives Scott a commanding 93% chance of being ahead right now, according to this poll and my model. In my view this is a reversal on the order of Marco Rubio’s comeback against the once Republican frontrunner for Senate, Charlie Crist.
Between the Democrats running for Senate, Jeff Greene has made a similar move against Kendrick Meek, the man once thought to be the certain nominee for his party. Greene leads 33-23 (MoE 3.5), for a 92% lead probability, similar in nearly every way to Scott’s lead on the other side.
Of course, once we have the nominees, we’ll have an entirely new set of challenges to deal with: the independents. In the matchup between Jeff Greene, Marco Rubio, and newly independent Charlie Crist, Quinnipiac’s general election poll gives us the painfully unclear 37 Crist – 32 Rubio – 17 Greene (MoE 3.2). Three candidates make for an unstable situation.
Likewise, in the race for Governor, Bud Chiles as an independent confuses the situation and we get Rick Scott 32 – Alex Sink 24 – Bud Chiles 11 for another three cornered race where relatively small swings could easily change the entire race.
We still have hope for clarity in Florida, though. My own suspicion is that the two contested primaries are inflating the support each independent is getting, and voters from both major parties will see large numbers “come home” for the general. That’s why third parties and independents so rarely win, after all.