Republican Marco Rubio continues to hold a commanding lead in the U.S. Senate race over his two challengers, independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely Florida voters released Wednesday morning.
"As the clock ticks down to Election Day, there is no evidence that Marco Rubio's lead is narrowing. Anything is possible since there are still three weeks left in the campaign, but it appears Rubio's opponents will need an earthshaking development to deny him the U.S. Senate seat,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Gov. Charlie Crist's best chance for victory all along required that he outpoll Meek among Democrats and get half the independent vote. He is doing neither."
Here are the numbers: Rubio's lead over Crist, 44-30; his lead over Meek, 44-22.
The results are nearly unchanged since the last Quinnipiac poll on Sept. 30. That poll showed Rubio with a 46-33 lead over Crist and a 46-18 spread vs. Meek.
Rubio is getting 85 percent of the Republican vote, 32 percent of independents and 5 percent of Democrats. Crist, elected governor four years ago on the GOP ticket, is getting 13 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents. Meek gets 1 percent of the GOP vote, 19 percent among independents and 50 percent of Democrats.
"Rubio's stranglehold on the Republican vote and competitive position among independents makes up for his negligible showing among Democrats," said Brown. "Moreover, his vote is much more solid than his opponents, since only 8 percent of his supporters say they might change their mind, compared to 26 percent of Crist backers and 29 percent of Meek supporters."
Other findings of the poll show that President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats have their work cut out for them between now and Nov. 2. Florida's likely voters disapprove of Obama's job performance, 54-43, only a slight improvement from Oct. 1 when they disapproved 56-40.
Rubio and fellow Republicans have capitalized on the discontent with the White House.
"Rubio has tried to make this election between himself and President Obama's policies, not between himself and Crist or Meek. Given the attitudes of likely voters, that has proven to be a smart strategy that appears likely to bear fruit on Election Day," said Brown.
One interesting note about the poll, said Brown, is that Crist should have chosen to run for re-election as governor instead of embarking on an independent bid for the Senate. Poll numbers show Crist has a 51-43 percent job approval as governor.
"Crist probably should not have quit his day job," Brown said.
The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,055 Florida likely voters with a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The poll was done Oct. 6-10.