TALLAHASSSEE, Florida — Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist is leading Republican Gov. Rick Scott by 7 points in a poll released Thursday, but the lead is much closer than it was seven months ago.
Crist announced earlier this month that he would seek his old job with his new party. The announcement, though, doesn't seem to have given him a boost with voters. He leads Scott 47-40 in the Quinnipiac University poll, but led Scott by 16 percentage polls in Quinnipiac poll in March, when his entry in the race was still speculative.
Still, that doesn't mean Scott's popularity is on the rise. More voters, 53 percent, said he doesn't deserve a second term, compared to 37 percent who say he does. And Scott's approval remains low, with 42 percent of respondents saying he's doing a good job and 47 percent saying he isn't.
"To catch Crist, Scott is going to have to convince Florida voters that Crist was a bad governor and a political opportunist," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "And he is planning on spending tens of millions of dollars on television adds to make that argument. This will be an intensely negative campaign on both sides. The survivor will be the candidate voters dislike least on Election Day."
Crist served as governor from 2007 to 2011. He ran for Senate instead of seeking a second term. He initially sought the Republican nomination and at the last minute decided to run as an independent after falling behind eventual victor Marco Rubio in the primary. Crist registered as a Democrat in December.
Most voters, 56 percent, think Crist did a good job as governor compared to 36 percent who said he didn't, the poll showed.
Crist has a comfortable lead in the Democratic primary over former Sen. Nan Rich, 60 percent to 12 percent.
The poll also showed that voters overwhelmingly support legal use of marijuana if prescribed by a doctor for medical reasons, with 82 percent in favor and 16 percent opposed.
Quinnipiac polled 1,646 registered voters from Nov. 12-17. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.