With 33 days left to go in Florida's titantic U.S. Senate race, a clear trend, already formed in the past two weeks, has clearly set hold with the release of three new polls issued in the last 24 hours - that verify that Marco Rubio is gaining steam, and both Charlie Crist (despite all his new found Democratic party love) and Democrat Kendrick Meek are falling further behind in the race to succeed George LeMieux in Washington.
A Quinnipiac poll issued early Thursday shows Rubio up 46%-33% over Crist, with Kendrick Meek way behind at 18%. That follows a CNN/Time poll released Wednesday night showing Rubio with 42%, Crist 31% and Meek at 23%.
A Rasmussen poll also has Rubio maintaining a double digit lead.
The CNN pollster says Crist is getting squeezed.
"Crist had a lead among independents at the start of the month, but Rubio now appears to have the edge among this key group," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
"And with Meek holding a majority of the vote among Democrats, that narrows Crist's options heading into the final turn."
Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown says that Crist's approval ratings are still high, meaning if he had opted to quell his ambition (good luck with that) and ran for re-election, he'd probably have no problem, but against the angry white man sentiments surfacing this year a la 1994, Rubio is the deal for the Senate:
"If Gov. Crist winds up losing the race, he may kick himself for giving up his day job in Tallahassee. Even though he gets only 33 percent of the vote in the three-way race for senator, voters still give him a healthy 51 - 43 percent approval rating for his job as governor. Usually, approval for one office translates into support for another, but this is not the typical political year," said Brown. "The biggest imbalance is among Democrats, 72 percent of whom approve of his job performance, but only 46 percent of whom say they will vote for him for the Senate."
Several bloggers this morning have seized on this comment by pollster Peter Brown, as if he's unlocked a secret code:
"The real threat to Rubio is that somehow the Meek and Crist voters get together and decide to support one of the two," said Brown.
Does anybody expect that to happen? It won't come from the Kendrick Meek campaign, but that doesn't mean some Democrats might not further alienate themselves from the rank and file and perhaps start airing some ads for Crist, saying he's the last, best hope for a U.S. Senator from Florida to caucus with Democrats in Washington.