Rubio Opens Huge Lead in Senate Primary; Surprising Age Gap Develops
A new poll from North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling shows that Charlie Crist leads Marco Rubio by 49% to 36% among Republicans who describe themselves as moderates. However, among self-described conservatives, Rubio leads Crist by an absolutely staggering 71% to 17% margin.
Unfortunately for the governor, conservatives outnumber moderates by about a 2-1 margin among likely Republican primary voters.
The survey of 492 likely Republican primary voters, taken from March 5th to 8th, has a margin of error of 4.4%. Overall, Republicans prefer Rubio to Crist by 60% to 28%, with 12% either unsure or backing another candidate such as former Senator Bob Smith.
Privately, the Crist camp is crying foul. Sources tell us that they believe the polling firm is an agenda-driven entity backed by Democrats. They allege that the polling questions are skewed to call Crist's party-loyalty into question and that the firm's ultimate goal is to undermine the Republican primary process.
“It’s been an amazing fall for Charlie Crist,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “At this point it doesn’t look like he could win a Republican primary for Dog Catcher.”
The Crist campaign disagrees.
"Ultimately, elections are about choices: this election will come down to the choice between an honest public servant with a strong conservative record in Charlie Crist and a Miami lobbyist-politician Marco Rubio, who has traded on his connections for everything from $135 haircuts to fat lobbying deals," said Crist campaign Communications Director Andrea Saul. "Charlie Crist will win this race and win it decisively."
For that to happen, something big will need to change in the mind of Republican primary voters who now overwhelmingly disapprove of the job that the governor is doing. The PPP poll shows that the governor's job approval has fallen to 29%.
The poll numbers also reveal a sharp and somewhat surprising age gap. While you might expect the young and fresh-faced Rubio to appeal to younger voters, he's actually polling far better among older segments of the electorate.
Rubio leads Crist by 55% among voters over 65 years of age, but Crist actually holds an 18% advantage among voters who are under the age of 30.
The Jacksonville Observer spoke directly with Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, confirming first-hand that the firm only does work for Democratic clients. However, Jensen explained that they occassionally do nonpartisan polls of major races around the country and that this was one such poll.
"The private polling we do commercially, we only work for Democratic clients," Jensen said. "However, we occassionally poll big races on our own and these polls are very nonpartisan."
Jensen also shared the results of this poll from the Jacksonville-area. It shows Marco Rubio leading Charlie Crist 70% to 12%. However, with only 33 responses the sample has a huge margin of error -- plus or minus 17%.