BY JIM KANE
In recent polls in Broward County, I’ve found an increasing number of Democratic voters who have decided Charlie Crist isn’t such a bad guy after all. I’m not talking about your average Democratic voter who is capable to defect to the other side given the right candidate and issue. I’m talking about hard-core Democrats who would sooner vote for Osama Bin Laden than a Republican.
No better example of this can be seen in the latest BrowardBeat.Com survey of Broward District 6 Democratic Primary voters. Only the most dedicated Democrats were surveyed — 403 registered Democrats who had voted in at least one of the last two county primaries.
The first survey question is what pollsters call an engagement question. It’s meant to be an easy and interesting question on a well-known politician that allows the voter to give a “top of the head answer. Once they give a response to this question, there is high probability the voter will continue with the rest of the survey. We often use a presidential or gubernatorial job approval question for this purpose.
In this District 6 survey of likely Democratic primary voters, we used the gubernatorial job rating of Charlie Crist as our lead question.
We used the same question in our survey conducted two years ago, so we have a good comparison of how hard-core Democratic voters felt about his performance in two different time periods.
One poll conducted while he was a Republican Governor and the other as an independent candidate running for the U.S. Senate. In Table 1, we can see how his popularity has grown among Democratic Primary voters.
|Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly|
|disapprove of the way Charlie Crist is handling his job as Governor?||2010||2008|
|5=Don’t Know/Can’t Rate||18||12|
Amazingly, his strong approval numbers have increased from 11% to a whopping 29% – an 18 point difference.
In this highly Democratic district Crist has a 67% job approval rating (combining both Strongly and Somewhat Approve)!
Compare that rating with Mason-Dixon’s (August 13, 2010) latest statewide survey of all voters showing Crist with a job approval rating of only 44%.
So what’s going on here? Why are so many hard-core Democrats seeing Charlie in a new light?
First of all, he has dropped his Republican moniker and is running for the U.S. Senate as an NPA. Democrats see this move as sticking it to the Republican Party and they like it.
Secondly, his vetoes of the legislature’s school reform bill and the controversial abortion bill was regarded as widely popular with Democrats in South Florida. All of a sudden Crist has become the champion of progressive politics.
And how will all this play out in November?
Clearly, Crist’s new found popularity is a death-knell for Kendrick Meek, if he wins the Democratic Primary on Tuesday. To win in Florida as a Democrat you need to carry most of the Democratic voters and hope for a majority of Independents. Republican’s rarely defect from their party’s nominee and I don’t see that changing in this election cycle.
If Jeff Greene wins, it will increase Crist’s chances for victory because most of the Democratic establishment will abandon Greene and probably cut a backroom deal with Crist to entice him into the Democratic caucus.
BY BUDDY NEVINS
Hidden in an earlier Jim Kane poll of heavily Democratic Sunrise is more good news for Charlie Crist.
Of the 402 answering the telephone survey, 67.41 percent had a favorable opinion of Crist and 53.23 percent throught he was doing a good job.
His unfavorable rating was low for a governor in these turbulent times 24.13 percent. Kane said the majority of the unfavorable votes were cast by Republicans.
The poll was taken July 30-Aug. 1 and surveyed only likely voters with a strong history of voting in Sunrise elections.
The Sunrise results are significant because it is the heart of Democratic Broward.
Just over 67 percent of those polled self-identified themselves as Democrats. Republicans comprised 17.91 percent of those surveyed and independents 10.95 percent.
About half of Sunrise’s likely voters live in condominiums. Just under one third are Jewish and a fourth are Catholic. Whites comprise 77.36 percent of them, while Hispanics are only 7.46 percent of the likely voters and blacks 6.72 percent.
Democrats like Charlie Crist. That’s no surprise given the poor quality of the Democratic field for U. S. Senate.
I was at a party of largely liberal, Democrats over the weekend. Because of my history as a political columnist, the upcoming election became a topic of conversation several times. Every single one of these liberal Democrats said they were voting for Crist in November, with several saying they had never voted for him before.
This is, of course, anecdotal.
Given the Sunrise results, it looks like Crist is moving in the right direction
Jim Kane is one of South Florida’s premier pollsters and political strategists, appearing regularly on national television and in the national print media. He currently teaches graduate seminars at the University of Florida in survey research, political behavior, political campaigning and political parties and interest groups. He has written numerous papers on politics for publications such as Political Research Quarterly and won an American Political Science Association Award in 2004 for the best paper in the state and local elections section. Kane was the first Democratic pollster to work for the Republican Party of Florida.