Charlie Crist will not be Florida's next United States Senator.
In a year where most predictions are downright silly, I am very confident in that one. When Kendrick Meek won last Tuesday, with his victory went Charlie Crist's chances. Democrats who want to beat Marco Rubio should jump on the Meek train.
To understand why, let's revisit the math.
For Crist to win the United States Senate race, he would need a formula that looked something like this:
33% of the Democratic vote
33% of the Republican vote
50% of the NPA vote.
This formula would get him a vote total of 36-37%, a likely win scenario in a highly competitive three way race, where all three candidates are scoring in the thirties.
Here is one problem: Rubio is limiting him to 20% of the Republican vote. If Rubio keeps him at 20% of the GOP vote, Crist needs to get 45% of the Democratic vote in order to win, and according to the latest PPP poll, Crist is only at 38% today with Democrats.
But the bigger problem is he is falling into the same place as many other long time office holders: his personal approval numbers are plummeting. He no longer has that deep well of cross party lines personal support built up that allows him to transcend normal political divides. Instead, he now has to block and tackle like everyone else. In this political environment, absent some significant and unfortunate event that would thrust him back into the spotlight, the odds of him finding 15-20 points of political approval in the next nine weeks are slim, at best.
Therefore, for Crist, who after 20 years of being a GOP insider, his only path to victory is to find a way to be Democratic enough to win enough Democrats, Republican enough to win enough Republicans, and to do that in a way where he doesn't anger Independents. Not exactly the easiest thing to do, when Democrats now have a plausible alternative in Meek and Republicans in Rubio. If Greene had won, it might be a different story.
Democrats who support Crist keep saying to me, "well, we just need Dems to vote for Crist," but that just isn't going to happen in the margins he needs to win.
Today, Rubio has the clearest path to victory, but once Democrats figure out that Meek is their only option, his path will get much more clear as well. For Crist, I wouldn't rush to book that early January plane ticket from Tallahassee to DC-- a trip that starting in October 2010, the rest of us will be able make without stopping in Atlanta or Charlotte!