The Fix: Crist rules out independent run

By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010; 11:04 AM

1. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) put to rest -- again -- speculation that he is considering running as an independent for the Senate with something very close to a Shermanesque statement released by his campaign Thursday.

"Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican," the statement read. "He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation."

The latest flurry of speculation about Crist's future in the GOP resulted from two events: the massive $3.6 million fundraising haul of former state House speaker Marco Rubio in the first three months of the year and a non-denial denial from the governor when asked whether a third-party run was in the cards.

Crist sought to turn the talk of an independent run against Rubio, insisting that the former state legislator was the root of the "baseless rumors." Crist's statement should put to rest talk of an indie run.

But, it still remains decidedly unclear how the governor hopes to make up significant ground against Rubio in advance of the state's Aug. 24 primary. Rubio has emerged as the darling of conservatives nationally and, simultaneously, has been able to cast Crist as insufficiently loyal to the basic principles of the party.

2. New numbers out of Gallup show the favorability ratings for the Democratic party have dipped to a record low in nearly two decades of data on the question.

Just 41 percent of people had a favorable impression of the Democratic party while 54 percent saw the party in an unfavorable light. The last time Gallup asked the question in early September, Democrats fared far better with a 51 percent favorable score and a 45 percent unfavorable score. The 41 percent who currently rate the Democratic party favorably is four points lower than its previous low ebb, which came in 2005.

While the GOP isn't soaring in terms of overall impressions (42 percent favorable/51 unfavorable), it has -- for the first time -- pulled even with the Democratic party in terms of overall impressions among the public.

"The images of the two major parties have particular significance in a midterm election year," writes Gallup's Frank Newport, adding that in the immediate runup to the 2006 midterm elections the Democratic party favorable rating stood at 52 percent as compared to just 37 percent for the Republican party. (Democrats picked up 31 seats in that election.)

The Gallup numbers would suggest that the idea that Republicans' near-unified opposition to the policy proposals of President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress is hurting the GOP in the eyes of the American public is not true -- or at least not true right now.

Republicans, it would seem, are benefiting at present from what we have taken to calling the "other guy" phenomenon. With people growing increasingly sour with the Democratic party, Republicans are simply the alternative. And sometimes in midterm elections that's enough. (See 1994, 2006).

3. A new internal poll for Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson suggests that he and ophthalmologist Rand Paul are in a dead heat with just over five weeks remaining before the state's Republican Senate primary on May 18.

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