For Crist's Sake

The U.S. Senate race down in Florida has to be the most fascinating contest in this year’s mid-term elections for me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently because of these volatile polls that have come out. Supporters of Marco Rubio, the beleaguered Republican golden boy, were first elated when Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen released polls showing Rubio +5. The pendulum shifted again when Quinnipiac released its most recent survey showing Gov. Charlie Crist ahead by 7 points.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Kendrick Meek demonstrates why it’s hard out there for a small-time politician. Ever since Gov. Crist (the orange, unprincipled one, for the casual voters) pole-vaulted out of the Florida GOP to independence, Meek has been a non-entity. And for his part, President Barack Obama hadn’t been showing the brother any love. And while he’s keeping his options open by continuing to flirt with the orange governor, Obama did put on the charm offensive yesterday and ordered a sandwich for the congressman during a trip there.

The Hill:

Even though the president still hasn't headlined a fundraiser or campaign event exclusively for Meek, the congressman's campaign used every chance it could Wednesday to get him close to the president. 

Meek was on the airport tarmac to greet Obama when he arrived, and the two later made a stop at Jerry's Famous Deli in South Beach for corned beef sandwiches.

After purchasing Meek's sandwich, the president joked, "Don't say I never gave you anything."

This race is a welcome, fun departure from an otherwise bitter and depressing political climate.  The two Democrats are both essentially good guys. I can see how some view the White House’s past treatment of Kendrick Meek (an early supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton) as the epitome of its decadence. I tend to cut the president some slack on this one. (We all misread the tea leaves sometimes and have to pay the price, Kendrick!) Besides, Meek’s primary opponent, Jeff Greene, who was once gaining, is a charming politician—a kind of vulgar charm, no doubt. (Jeff Greene is like Bill Clinton with a billion dollars and no Hillary to instill a modicum of discipline.)

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The Real Democrat (FL-Sen)

If you haven't seen it yet, the campaign released a new web video this morning, asking the question, "How do you find the real Democrat in the Florida U.S. Senate race"?  Take a look and tell me what you think.  Video and transcript after the jump...

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Kendrick Meek Blasts BP at America's Future Now (FL-Sen)

Bumped from the diaries with an updated timestamp. Rep. Kendrick Meek is the Democratic nominee for Florida's open Senate seat. FWIW, I love his line "You're supposed to make people like me uncomfortable." -Nathan

As you know, Floridians are disproportionately affected by the actions of British Pretoleum that led to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I'm talking to Floridians every day who enraged at BP and want to make sure that BP pays the full price for it's actions. I'm listening.

I also want to listen to you. I'm going to be one of the leading voices in holding BP accountable. I want your feedback. Tell me actions you'd like to see taken to make sure that BP pays the price for this oil spill.

(Transcript of video below...)

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New Polls: Senate Races in KY, PA, FL, LA, & MO and Generic Ballot

All sorts of new polls out this week; it’s a junkie’s dream. Good news for Democrats on the generic ballot and presidential approval, and in Senate races, decent news in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, bad but expected news in Florida and Louisiana, and just plain bad news in Missouri.

In Kentucky, a new PPP poll shows Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo leading AG Jack Conway in the Democratic primary for Senate, 36-27. I’m not sure what to make of this poll – the last public poll, from SurveyUSA, had Mongiardo up just 3, and that was before a number of corruption scandals became public. Conway internals had him leading after the scandals broke. I’m going to continue to assume that this race is a toss-up. Also in Kentucky, PPP finds Rand Paul leading Trey Grayson 46-28 in the Senate GOP primary, a much more expected result, and Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin tied at 24 in a way-too-early presidential primary poll.

Still in KY-SEN, Rasmussen finds that Conway is competitive in a general election while Mongiardo is not. You might find that odd, given that Conway is the progressive and this is Kentucky, but hey, ethics are ethics. Anyway, Rasmussen shows Conway with a 47-36 approval spread, as compared to Mongiardo’s 40-48. In the four hypothetical general election head-to-heads, no Repub candidate ever cracks 50%, and Conway always outpolls Mongiardo, trailing Grayson by 5 and Paul by 9 as compared to Mongiardo’s 14 and 16. Pretty compelling numbers, if electability is what you look for in a primary.

Leaving the south, in PA-SEN, two new polls show Admiral and decorated veteran Joe Sestak catching up with Swift Boating incumbent Arlen Specter, but he still has a long way to go. A new poll from Muhlenberg, their first with 402 LV Democrats and a 5% MOE, shows Sestak within the MOE at 46-42. Quinnipiac shows a much wider gap, with Specter leading 47-39, but Quinnipiac’s previous poll from a month earlier had it at 53-32. The takeaway is that Specter is still easily the favorite but that Sestak now has a real chance. At Pollster.com, Harry Enten analyzes different types of polls and their history in recent cycles, concluding that “this election is probably going to be a close one, and Specter better hope for a healthy turnout.”

Conway’s general and Sestak’s improving numbers are about the only good news out there for progressives. The first FL-SEN poll, from Rasmussen, to come out since Crist’s party switch is the worst news yet for Democrat Kendrick Meek: Crist 38, Rubio 34, Meek 17. The poll shows Rasmussen’s desire for money and speed – it’s N=500 in a one-day frame – but it nonetheless underlines what I’ve been saying for days. Crist’s move hurts Meek more than Rubio. Meek’s previous three-way low, also from Rasmussen, was 22, and his previous non-Rasmussen low was 24.

More bad news in both MO-SEN and LA-SEN. In Missouri, allegedly a toss-up and one of our best shots, Rasmussen has Repub Roy Blount leading Democrat Robin Carnahan 50-42. The good news is that it’s the right-leaning, automated phone response Rasmussen. Still, a trend is a trend, and Rasmussen’s previous two polls showed this race at 48-42 and 47-41. RCP gives him a lead of just one point, but that includes a September poll so it’s complete bunk. So far no good in Missouri. Louisiana isn’t much better, either. No, this race was never considered a toss-up, but with a horny felon running against a Blue Dog, you’d think we’d at least have a chance. And yet, admittedly Republican pollster Lane Grigsby of Opinion Research shows David “I like my prostitutes in diapers” Vitter leading Rep. Charlie Melancon 49-31. Vitter has a favorable/unfavorable of 55036, lower than Gov. Jindal (R)’s but higher than senator Landrieu or President Obama’s. The RCP average is Vitter by 15.3, which would actually be higher if they didn’t include numbers from last July.

But let’s end on a bright spot. In the Gallup generic ballot, Democrats are holding steady in a tie at 45-45. On the one hand, Democrats are in their worst generic ballot position ever, but on the other hand, this is the second week in a row Gallup has found a 45-45 tie, and it follows Democratic leads from YouGov/Polimetrix and ABC/Washington Post. Only the right-leaning Rasmussen finds a Repub lead.

The new CBS/New York Times poll also gives good news for Democrats. The President clocks in at a 51-39 approval rating. In previous monthly CBS polls, he was at 50-40, 49-41, and 46-45. Quibble with the numbers, but a trend is a trend. Maybe he’s above 50, maybe not, but President Obama and even Congressional Democrats have only improved their position over the past few months. CBS/NYT finds similar trends on specific issues, even those where the net remains negative.

Tell Rubio and Crist: 'No New Drilling in the Gulf' (Petition)

I've always opposed misguided efforts that threaten Florida's economy and environment by haphazardly drilling offshore. The vast oil spill off the coast of Louisiana - which led Gov. Crist to declare a state of emergency in several Panhandle counties - confirms this sad truth: the cost for error in Florida is too great. If thousands of barrels of oil spill over into our coasts, our economy, environment and military will all bear the brunt of massive corporate irresponsibility.

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