To jump off of Tim's post, a new Mason-Dixon poll shows Marco Rubio leading with 45 points to Charlie Crist's 28 and Kendrick Meek's 24:
As his opponents argue over who should abandon their bid for U.S. Senate, Republican Marco Rubio is cruising toward the finish line, according to a new poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.
The results, released Friday morning, show Rubio with a 17-point lead over independent Gov. Charlie Crist and a 24-point lead over Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek.
Rubio is now supported by 45 percent of voters, while Crist gets 28 percent and Meek gets 21 percent. Rubio’s lead is now bigger than ever – virtually insurmountable, according to Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker.
With that in mind, I can understand Meek's decision not to leave the race. For starters, it's not actually clear that he could pave the way for a Crist win if he dropped out of the race. Sure, without Meek to contend with, it's possible that Crist could bump up to the 50 percent range. But it's just as likely that Meek's supporters could sit out the election, denying Crist the support he needs to win. Leaving the race without actually changing the dynamics of the contest could potentially destroy Meek's career. As it stands, he has a political base and the opportunity to run again in four years, when Bill Nelson leaves the Senate. For Meek, it's better to go down fighting than risk his political career.
One last thing: This wasn't the only possible election scenario. Instead of running as an independent, Crist could have left the Republican primary and thrown his support behind Meek, giving the congressman space to build a larger anti-Rubio coalition. Rubio is an incredibly strong candidate, but it's hard to say how he would have fared against Meek in a two-way race. You can make a strong case that Marco Rubio's rise will owe itself more to Charlie Crist's opportunism and not Kendrick Meek's stubbornness.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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