Final Quinnipiac poll of Florida’s governor’s race: Charlie Crist 43%, Rick Scott 40%

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A jump in support from independent likely voters in the Florida governor’s race leaves Democrat Charlie Crist with 43 percent, inches ahead of Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott with 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has 8 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

This compares to results of an October 22 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, showing Gov. Scott and Crist tied 42 – 42 percent, with Wyllie at 7 percent.

With Wyllie out of the race, Crist gets 45 percent to Scott’s 42 percent.

Men and women remain divided in the three-way matchup. Scott leads Crist among men 47 – 37 percent, with 9 percent for Wyllie, while Crist leads Scott 49 – 35 percent among women, with 6 percent for Wyllie.

Independent voters go to Crist over Scott 47 – 29 percent, with 16 percent for Wyllie. This compares to last week’s result, showing Crist taking 41 percent of independent voters, to Scott’s 38 percent, with 11 percent for Wyllie.

Republicans back Scott over Crist 81 – 8 percent, with 4 percent for Wyllie. Democrats go to Crist over Scott 83 – 7 percent, with 3 percent for Wyllie.

Among those who already have voted, Crist gets 40 percent to Scott’s 39 percent.

“Independent voters are often the difference in swing states like Florida, but the size of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s lead among them is truly remarkable,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Crist, who always has sought to portray himself as a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, seems to have sold that message to independents who historically have favored problem-solvers who are less politicaI,” Brown added. “It may turn out that Crist’s change from Republican to independent to Democrat branded him as the kind of less political politician with the most important voter group. If Crist can win independents by 20 points on Election Day, he will be difficult to beat.

“It would be a reasonable hypothesis that the candidates’ debates made a big difference in this race. Scott was ahead going into them and behind after them. It could be a coincidence, but it would be a pretty large coincidence. Crist has long been thought of as an excellent campaigner and he used those skills to his advantage. … Wyllie is holding on to his 8 percent and if those voters decide to leave him for a major party candidate they could also make a difference.”

Just five days before Election Day, 90 percent of voters who name a candidate say their mind is made up, while 10 percent say they might change their mind. Their mind is made up, say 91 percent of Crist voters, 92 percent of Scott supporters and 67 percent of Wyllie backers.

Florida likely voters give Crist a split 45 – 45 percent favorability rating, compared to Scott’s negative 41 – 46 percent, while 81 percent of likely voters still do not know enough about Wyllie to form an opinion of him.

From October 22 – 27, Quinnipiac University surveyed 817 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and the nation as a public service and for research.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.