Mason-Dixon poll has Crist with lowest approval rating of any FL gov in 16 years

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In an ominous sign for his independent bid the U.S. Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist’s job approval rating has plunged to 44 percent, the worst of any Florida governor in 16 years.

For the first time in his nearly four years in office, Crist’s popularity slid below the important 50-percent benchmark according to a Mason-Dixon poll released today. That’s down from 51 percent in the same poll in May.

The survey suggests that Crist’s gamble in April to flee the Republican Party in the face of a strong primary challenge from ultra-conservative former House Speaker Marco Rubio isn’t paying off, said Mason-Dixon managing director Brad Coker.

It also shows that the moderate Crist continues to pay the price for embracing President Barack Obama’s budget-busting economic stimulus recovery plan, which voters rate as a failure, Coker said. Obama’s popularity in Florida, 44 percent, mirrors Crist’s.

“It’s almost like they’re joined at the hip,” Coker said. “I don’t see how Crist recovers from this.”

Only 31 percent of voters feel the economic stimulus package has improved the economy, while 35 percent say it has hurt the economy, according to the poll.

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.