Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign for U.S. Senate was hit with a one-two punch Tuesday as Republican rival Marco Rubio moved ahead of him in a public-opinion poll for the first time and almost matched him in fundraising for the quarter.
Rubio's 47-44 point lead over Crist actually is a statistical tie — it's well within the Quinnipiac University poll's error margin. And Crist still has a 4-to-1 financial advantage over Rubio.
But the numbers reinforce the trend of Rubio's rise and Crist's fall as the candidates head toward the Aug. 24 primary in which only Republicans can vote.
In October, Crist led the Quinnipiac poll 50-35 percent. In August, Crist's lead was even bigger (55-26) and in June (54-23) the race looked like Crist would blow out Rubio and waltz into the U.S. Senate.
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"Who would have thunk it? A former state lawmaker virtually unknown outside of his South Florida home enters the race 31 points behind and seven months later sneaks into the lead," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Rubio's grass-roots campaigning among Republican activists around the state clearly has paid off," Brown said.
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