A new Quinnipiac poll shows Charlie Crist leading Rick Scott 48% to 38%. Going inside the crosstabs of the poll, here are some instant key takeaways.
1. It is very, very difficult to take seriously a poll which relies on a turnout model of 25% Republican, 31% Democrat, and 34% Independent. No consultant or pollster worth his salt is planning on anything close to that in November. In fact, it’s more possible for there to be a +6 GOP advantage rather than a +6 advantage for Democrats.
Mind you, this is not the actual party breakdown of those who participated, this is the self-reported party breakdown of those who participated in the poll. The polling trend du jour is for Democrats and Republicans — more so Republicans than Democrats — to self-report as an Independent. Taking that into account, the sample is probably way off: As George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post notes: in 2010, Florida exit poll respondents self-reported 36% Dem, 36% Republican, and 29% Independent.
2. Because of the skewing in this poll, put aside how the Dems and Republicans voted and look at what Independent voters said. Overall, Crist leads Scott by fourteen points among Independent voters. That’s the key takewaway from this poll, because other recent polls had showed Crist and Scott essentially tied among this demo.
3. Again, taking into account the skewing present in this poll, the trend-line is good news for Crist. In the January Q-poll which also oversampled Democrats, Crist was ahead of Scott by eight points. Now, after several million dollars in negative TV ads from Scott’s camp, the race is essentially the same as it was at the beginning of the year.
4. Cross-tabs and party ID breakdowns don’t make it into most news stories until about the fifteenth paragraph. And they certainly don’t make it into headlines. So this poll is good for Crist for no other reason than the headlines will read “Crist up by 10.”
5. In this poll — which clearly oversamples Democrats and shows Crist leading Scott by ten points — Nan Rich trails Scott by six points. In their individual match-ups against Scott, party-switching Crist does better than lifelong liberal Rich holding on to Democratic voters (Crist keeps 82%, while Rich keeps just 67%). Also, 83% of Democrats say they don’t know enough about Rich to have an opinion of her.
So when the question arises about why Crist won’t debate Rich, a lot of folks in Cristworld will point to this poll and talk about the obvious non-viability of Rich.
Those are my five takeaways. What do you all see?