This has been one hell of a turn around. A year ago Crist was essentially appointed as Mel Marrinez successor. Now he’s going to drop out and run as an independent. So what happened? Despite his efforts to paint himself as a conservative, he’s always been somewhat of a RINO. That didn’t help him. Still, he had a lot of cred and was even mentioned as a possible VP mate for McCain. Then the wheels kind of fell off.
His first big mistake was standing next to Obama and cheering on the porkulous bill. At the time Obama was very popular so he thought he could get in on some of that karma. As it turned out the porkulous bill didn’t end up being so popular and that image really hurt him. Then back in December he tried to deny he ever supported porkulous, which was clearly a lie. Voters will put up with a lot and we expect politicians to lie, but this was just too much. Crist really started bleeding support at that point.
Finally, it turned out that Rubio was a very attractive candidate and he was a true conservative. It’s pretty much been down hill since then.
So, does Crist stand any chance as an independent? No, not really. Reagan used to say you never go against the party, and now Crist has committed the unpardonable sin, he left the party. He is not likely to get many GOP votes. He’s also not likely to get many democrat votes either as there is already a lefty endorsed by Obama, which is why the White House wouldn’t take any calls from Crist.
The next question is whether Crist is likely to hurt Rubio’s chances? This is a tougher question to answer. It probably hurts Rubio more than it would the Democrat, but I think the effect is marginal. There is enough anti-incumbency fever right now to still gives Rubio an edge. It is likely that this race comes down to voter enthusiasm and turnout, which also favors the GOP.
In any event, Crist, don’t go away mad, just go away and don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.