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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Floridians Digest the Idea of Independent Charlie Crist



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On May 5, Rasmussen gave us some results out of Florida that confounded the conventional wisdom: As an independent, Charlie Crist led the Senate race and seemed to be in healthy shape.

But today, Rasmussen finds Marco Rubio in the lead again, 39 percent to Crist’s 31 percent, with Democrat Kendrick Meek continuing to trail badly at 17 percent.

I think this suggests that we unhealthy political junkies process news at a different speed than normal, relatively apolitical voters. Many of us look at Crist’s departure from the GOP – often predicted in the preceding weeks, and often flatly denied by the candidate himself – as a self-immolating temper tantrum, a demonstration that hell hath no fury like an Oompa Loompa scorned. We may see his refusal to return donations from Republicans who feel betrayed as one step removed from theft. We may see Crist’s moves – from embracing Obama and the stimulus to trying to argue that he was the real fiscal conservative to suddenly doing the teachers’ unions’ bidding on a school-reform bill – as the unpredictable, zig-zagging political reckless driving of a lost and increasingly desperate tourist, whose Garmin refuses to reveal the path to an electoral majority.*

But I suspect a decent number of Floridians, who have already voted for Charlie Crist in quite a few elections before, heard that a familiar name was running as an independent and thought, “Oh, good! I like independence. Our system needs more independents.” It was only after a few weeks of digestion did they realize that this is still the same guy who’s underwhelming them as governor, who’s running on a platform of “I’ll be anything you want me to be as long as I get to win.”

* Why yes, I did have trouble getting to the airport this morning, why do you ask?


Tags: Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio


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