The toplines of the latest survey from Public Policy Polling show both Charlie Crist and Alex Sink beating Rick Scott in hypothetical 2014 match-ups, but it’s not entirely clear whether the poll favors Crist over Sink (or vice versa) in a Democratic primary.
At least that’s what La Gaceta‘s Patrick Manteiga – a devout Sinkee — argues in his latest column:
“Charlie Crist boosters, such as some from across the Bay, will point out that the Democrats polled favor Crist over other Democrats. Crist’s favorable number is 73 percent. Alex Sink is next, with 53 percent.
“Sink boosters like us (we know, respect and like her, plus she’s been a Democrat with Democratic values all her life) will point out this poll fails to represent the demographic of an off-year primary ad the skew favors Crist. The old are underrepresented compared to the young. Older Democrats will face confusion over Republican-Independent-now Democrat Charlie. We will also not Ms. Sink is the least disliked among the Democrats polled, with only 11 percent unfavorable, while Crist is the most disliked with 17 percent.”
Sink is the “least disliked”! That is Manteiga’s argument for her candidacy. That she is less disliked than Charlie Crist by six percentage points.
And it’s a wonder why Sink lost the last election with supporters like Manteiga by her side. They’re worried about being the least disliked!
Being a Charlie Crist booster from across the Bay (that shot from Manteiga was aimed squarely at me, by the way), I will point out that the Democrats polled favor Crist over other Democrats. Manteiga would like to just breeze past this point, but the gap between Crist and the rest of the field, it almost makes insignificant the rest of the survey. 52% of Democratic primary voters saythey’d like for Crist to be their candidate for Governor next year, compared to 18% for Alex Sink, 13% for Pam Iorio, 4% for Buddy Dyer, and 1% for Nan Rich. In other words, a majority of Democrats are already unified behind Crist over the rest of the field.
As for the demographics of this poll failing to represent the off-year primary electorate, there are two rebuttals to that point. First of all, no one knows what the off-year demographic is going to look like post-Obama. Making premature assumptions about demographics is what made Republican pollsters look so foolish in 2012. And so for Manteiga to just assume that “older Democrats will face confusion” is as silly as Gallup and Rasmussen predicting that the 2012 presidential election would look like the 2004 one.
Mr. Manteiga and his allies may have trouble wrapping themselves around the idea of Charlie Crist as their standard bearer, but bending polling numbers to fit their worldview won’t make the process any easier. It’s time for them to stop supporting the least disliked candidate and get on board a winner.