With a little over a month remaining before the Nov. 2 election, the three-way race for U.S. Senate is turning into a two-man race — for second place.
A statewide poll released Saturday night shows Republican Marco Rubio building on his lead over independent challenger Charlie Crist, while Democrat Kendrick Meek appears to be closing in on Crist in the closely watched contest.
Rubio is favored by 40 percent of likely voters, up from 38 percent last month; Crist's support has dwindled to 28 percent from 33 percent, according to the Mason-Dixon Research & Associates survey of 625 likely Florida voters. The margin of error is plus/minus 4 percentage points.
The poll found that Meek is gaining on Crist, with his support rising sharply to 23 percent of likely voters, up from 18 percent. Nine percent are undecided.
"Rubio seems to be in a solid position to win, while Crist is fading," said
Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker: "Crist is bleeding Democrats to Meek and independents to both Meek and Rubio."
To have 40 percent support "in a three-way race is a very strong position to hold," said Coker.
"Rubio, in fact, only needs to gain 2-3 points to wrap up the race," he said. "The only way Rubio could lose is if the support for Crist or Meek dropped under 15 percent. That could happen, but it would require an almost total abandonment by Democrats from Crist to Meek, or vice versa."
The poll was done by telephone Sept. 20 through 22. All those interviewed indicated they would likely vote in November.