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DraftAlex is back from Thanksgiving, but not without a bit of a headache. Though part of it was most definitely caused by traffic and maybe a bit of Turkery (read: tryptophan) overload, most of it was because of this:

“But, Charlie Crist is so popular…”

While discussing politics with my family, that phrase was uttered by Democrat and Republican alike. No one said that Charlie had done such a stand-up job that they were definitely going to vote for him in 2010. No one said that they particularly liked his handling of any issue or problem in the state. Not one person- including my die-hard Republican relatives- thought that he was leading the state in the right direction. So, what’s going on?

You’ve read DraftAlex’s rants on this before, but seriously, why is Charlie Crist’s “popularity” keeping people from looking for a better option, like say Alex Sink? Why aren’t we demanding more for our state? Why is everyone just OK with the job Charlie is doing?

Here’s my deal: his support is softer than it seems. Only 50% think that he deserves to be reelected, even though 68% approve. Democrats can beat him. We need to stop being so defeatist about his supposed popularity and start demanding real answers and solutions for the issues facing Florida- answers and solutions Charlie just isn’t giving us.

Florida is a great state, and I, for one, am not content with settling. But, with the only response being “he’s so popular”, you cannot tell me that I’m the only one.

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Alex Sink has the highest name recognition and popularity among Democratic leaders that could run for higher office next year. As the one of two statewide elected officials – this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Many saw Chalrie Crist’s 68% approval rating from the Quinipiac University poll and just stopped reading — that’s just lazy analysis. There is a lot to look for in polls, and top-line numbers are only one piece. It may fit conventional wisdom for some to think the poll shows Charlie is unbeatable or overwhelmingly popular – but he’s neither.

Quinipiac has released two sets of numbers from there poll here and here. After looking through the numbers, there is no denying that Charlie Crist has managed to stay popular – but there is also no question that that same support is soft and that its going to get worse for him. Here’s why:

  • His re-elect number is 18 points lower than his approval rating. Exactly 50% would vote to re-elect him even though most approve of him.  That is 18% of the electorate that even though they like him aren’t sure they’d vote for him again- that includes a majority of independent voters.
  • The economy is the number one issue, and a majority do not approve of his handling of it.  Half of the respondents say that the economy is the most important issue in Florida – up from 8% last year. It is way higher than the next closest two: Education and Taxes, which are both at 8%. But, Charlie’s approval on the economy is lower than his approval overall; only 46% approve.
  • The budget is already starting to be a sticking point – only 44% approve of his handling of the budget, and 73% of Floridians oppose his across the board budget cuts. He’s either going to have to change his mind and follow Sink’s lead, or he’ll have to cut some programs that are going to anger people by doing something that they already disagree with.
  • 53% Floridians are not satisfied with the direction of Florida, and only 7% are very satisfied. This hasn’t affected Charlie so far in his term, but his “solutions” are only going to make it worse.

On the surface Charlie is popular, but it’s an inch deep. People are not as inclined to vote for him as they are to tell a pollster he’s doing a good job. Plus — he’s vulnerable on the major issues facing Florida and he doesn’t have much to say about it.

For example with the economy, he’s already lower than his overall numbers – and he’s going to do himself in by the way he is governing (or not governing). His jobs program is a website; his economic stimulus package is a press conference; and his budget solution is lazy at best.

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