Earlier this week, reputable Democratic Polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP Polls) released their latest poll on the Florida Governor’s race between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott. Last fall, Charlie Crist had a twelve point lead over the incumbent Rick Scott at 50/38, however according PPP’s latest numbers, the two candidates are deadlocked at 42%. Nan Rich supporters were quick to jump on this as soon as the numbers were published, and rightfully so. Most telling in the PPP Poll is the surprising figure that that Charlie is upside down in approval ratings with a 32/48 spread overall and also with independents at 24/49, the bloc of voters most important to the Republican turned Democrat as his numbers remain steady within Democratic ranks. However, as you can see via the visualization below, Charlie Crist’s once wide lead has dwindled considerably through the last few months. But why is this happening and will this trend continue as we march forward to November? Lets dig a little deeper.
Governor Scott will spend nearly $100 million on this campaign, and as you’ve probably already noticed, has already started such an ad blitz. Just since November, Rick Scott and his campaign committee have spent nearly $13 million on TV Ads. Even with the incumbent Governor boasting a 32 percent approval rating with Floridians polled in the PPP Poll, Rick Scott has pulled even with Charlie Crist. Scott’s carpet bombing of TV ads in major markets like Tampa, Orlando, and my home town of West Palm Beach is certainly the major factor behind such a drastic movement in the polls. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the average television viewers will see one hundred of them this election cycle, and folks, dont get it twisted- its working. As previously mentioned here, Crist’s favorables have dropped considerably as a resulted of this ad blitz. As the indubitable Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald and I have opined before, the bottom line is not important, its the trend that matters most. These polls show that the election is trending Rick Scott’s way. But there are major silver linings in the poll for Democrats. Of the 16% of that are undecided in this race, Rick Scott has a 23% approval rating and a 51% disapproval rating. The undecideds polled, are skewed towards younger, female, Hispanic voters that voted for Obama 43/39 in 2012, which plays right into Charlie’s wheel house.
Have no fear Democrats. No need for panic- at least not yet. Lets put some real context around Rick Scott’s catapult in the polls. Charlie hasn’t spent ANY money on television ads- not because he doesn’t have the cash on had to do it, the campaign raised $2 million in May, but because there is campaign strategy at play here. Charlie’s campaign team is full of smart, savvy, and experienced campaigners that know what they are doing. Take it from me, I’ve worked with many of them including Kevin Cate, Cesar Fernandez and Steve Schale. Crist running quiet right now is strategic and very smart. Crist camp knows, they will not be able to compete with the seemingly endless resources of the Rick Scott war chest and personal fortune, so they are conserving their resources so they can match Scott on TV when it matters- October and beyond aka, when the majority of voters are paying attention. The big leads that Crist had over Scott bought them plenty of time to conserve those resources for when they’ll really be needed. In other words, Rick Scott and his campaign, were trying to bait Crist to spend now, but team Crist knows better than that.
Folks, I’ve worked on many races not just here in Florida but in many different states, but no matter the location or type of race, campaigns are not sprints they are marathons. Much like a horse race, when you have limited resources, you have to hold back and pick the right time to strike, and push across the finish line. One second too early and you’ll run out of gas when it matters most- the final stretch. When the time comes, Team Crist will begin their own ad blitz, and according to my sources, we will begin to see a slow roll out ads from the campaign in the coming weeks, and I assure you these numbers will begin improve.