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Rasmussen Poll: Marco Rubio leads Charlie Crist 57%-28%

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Support for Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s U.S. Senate bid has fallen this month to its lowest level yet. Just 28% of the state’s likely Republican voters support his candidacy now, down six points from March.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely GOP Primary voters in the Sunshine State shows former state House Speaker Marco Rubio edging up a point from last month to 57%, his highest level of support to date. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate in the race, and 12% are undecided.

Republican Primary voters see Rubio as a stronger candidate than Crist in the General Election. Eighty-one percent (81%) say Rubio would be at least Somewhat Likely to win if nominated while just 63% say the same of Crist. Those figures include 53% who say Rubio would be Very Likely to win and 30% who see Crist as Very Likely to win.

The latest polling of the general election contest shows both Crist and Rubio with a double-digit lead over their likely Democratic opponent, Congressman Kendrick Meek. You can check the latest Florida polling updates and other news every day on the Rasmussen Reports Florida Page.

Both Crist and Rubio are vying to be the Republican nominee in this year’s race to fill the seat originally vacated by retiring GOP Senator Mel Martinez. In August, Crist as governor named his chief of staff, George LeMieux, to serve the remainder of Martinez’s term, but LeMieux is not running for a full term. Florida’s Republican Primary is scheduled for August 24.

Crist edges his opponent among moderate and liberal Republicans, but conservatives overwhelmingly favor Rubio.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

Twelve percent (12%) of likely Florida Republican Primary voters now have a very favorable opinion of Crist, while 15% view him very unfavorably, up five points from the previous survey.

Rubio is viewed very favorably by 28%, down 11 points from a month ago, but very unfavorably by just three percent (3%).

Fifty-three percent (53%) of these GOP voters approve of Crist’s performance as governor, a four-point improvement from last month, while 47% disapprove. This includes 10% who strongly approve and 20% who strongly disapprove.

Crist, an early favorite in the race, was the choice of the party establishment but angered conservatives when he was one of the few Republicans to endorse President Obama’s $787-billion economic stimulus plan. Rubio, initially a long-shot contender, was embraced by the Tea Party movement, and Crist’s support has been falling ever since.

The race has been all downhill for Crist. Last August, he had 53% support and a wide lead. He and Rubio were tied in December. Crist is down nine points from January.

Rubio, by comparison, went from 31% support last August to 49% by January. He’s been in the mid-50s since then.

The governor insists he’s staying in the race as a Republican rather than running as an independent as some have suggested. A Rasmussen Reports survey of a potential three-way Senate race shows Rubio earning 45% of the vote to likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek’s 25%, with Crist in third at 22%.

Crist’s lost support has shifted primarily to the undecided column this month, but his opponent’s overall numbers seem unhurt by recent news reports about questionable spending of state Republican funds by some officials, including Rubio.

Just 15% of Florida Republicans approve of Obama’s performance as president, with eight percent (8%) who strongly approve. Eighty-three percent (83%) disapprove of the job he is doing, including 71% who strongly disapprove.

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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