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New Rasmussen poll: Marco Rubio leads Kendrick Meek by 17%, Charlie Crist leads Meek by 15%:

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Update – 12:27 p.m. – Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio has now jumped to a 12-point lead over Governor Charlie Crist in Florida’s Republican Primary race for the U.S. Senate.

Other highlights:

Sixty-two percent (62%) of GOP Primary voters have a favorable view of Crist while 37% regard the governor unfavorably. Those figures include 19% with a very favorable opinion and 11% who have a very unfavorable view of him.

Rubio is viewed favorably by 67% of primary voters and unfavorably by only14%. These numbers include 35% with a very favorable opinion of the Cuban-American candidate versus four percent (4%) with a very unfavorable view.

Perhaps more telling for Crist is that just 56% of Republican Primary voters approve of the job he is now doing as governor. Forty-three percent (43%) disapprove of his job performance.

Both Republican hopefuls hold a double-digit lead over their likeliest Democratic opponent, Congressman Kendrick Meek, in the latest Rasmussen Reports survey of this year’s race for the U.S. Senate in Florida.

Governor Charlie Crist now has a 15-point lead on Meek among likely Florida voters, 48% to 33%. Given this match-up, 10% prefer another candidate, and nine percent (9%) are undecided.

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio now posts a 17-point lead on Meek, 49% to 32%. He had a 14-point lead on the Democrat in the previous survey and a similar margin in October. In a Rubio-Meek contest, six percent (6%) like another candidate, and 13% are undecided.

In December, Crist led Meek by just six, 42% to 36%. At that time, Rubio enjoyed a double-digit lead.

The real battle for now is for the Republican Senate nomination in Florida. Crist started off well ahead of Rubio. But his embrace last year of President Obama’s stimulus package helped prompt a conservative backlash against the governor, who last month found himself tied with Rubio among likely GOP Primary voters.

Rasmussen Reports will release new Florida Republican Primary numbers later today.

The poll also shows: GOP state Attorney General Bill McCollum leads Democrat Alex Sink 46% to 35%.

Five percent (6%) in the state currently rate the economy as good or excellent, while 58% say it’s poor.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of all Florida voters currently approve of the job Crist is doing as governor, including 10% who strongly approve. Forty-seven percent (47%) disapprove of his job performance, with 17% who strongly disapprove. These numbers are little changed from December.

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.

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