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Cherry-picking polls: Obama's leadership numbers tumble and would you believe Senator Charlie Crist?


Remember a year ago when Florida's 44th Gov. Charlie Crist, then claiming to be a Republican, got a big friendly political hug from Democrat Barack Obama, the 44th president who was then claiming to be stimulating the economy with $787 billion of someone else's money?

That on-stage gesture (see photo above), viewed as practically traitorous by conservative Sunshine state Republicans, helped rocket former GOP state House Speaker and Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio to the front of the state's Senate primary race.

Which helped Crist suddenly realize that he was really an independent at heart.

Now, the disastrous gulf oil spill has thrust Crist and Obama, an unlikely pair of former state senators, together again. Despite Crist's conscientious beach patrols (see photo below), four Obama visits, an underwhelming Oval Office address and numerous rounds of presidential golf, the prehistoric goo is still surging uncontrolled into the country's southern coastal waters.

As one result, a new CBS News Poll finds most Americans believe Obama reacted too slowly to the catastrophe (61%) and has no clear plan to deal with it (59% nationwide, 64% in the gulf area).

Governor Charlie checks a Florida beach for signs of oil

Forty-five percent say Obama has no clear plan for developing new energy sources and 54% still say he has no clear plan for developing new jobs, 16 months after he signed his own massive jobs plan and numerous expensive sales trips to sell its benefits.

Since January those Americans who say Obama has strong leadership qualities has shrunk from 70% to 62%, according to the CBS survey.

This time Crist is moving in the opposite direction from Obama. The state's party primaries are not until August, but early this month Rasmussen Reports found Crist and Rubio tied at 37% in a general election match-up, with Rep. Kendrick Meek, the likely Democratic candidate, trailing meekly at 15%.

However, just out this week is a new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll showing Crist has surged to 42%, Rubio faded to 31% and Meek still trailing at 14%.

One reason: Crist, like Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, has benefited from the local leadership opportunities presented by the spill. Obama hasn't. Another reason: Unlike most Floridians, Rubio still favors offshore drilling. Flip-flop, baby, flip-flop.

Now, here's the autumn question for the White House: If polls still show Crist leading, do they back him even tacitly as an independent, likely winner and potential Senate ally a la Joe Lieberman and then let the under-performing Meek swing in the wind, despite his official D party label?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press; Joe Raedle / Getty Images.

Comments () | Archives (4)

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The poll numbers are terrifying the hell out of the Democratic/liberal power structure. The problem is that the Republicans aren't going to look a whole lot better. Neither party has a clue and is more than eager to sell out the interests of the average American to please their masters.

Wow Andrew, if this post were any yellower, it would be a daffodil. You forgot that half of the stimulus package was the largest middle class tax cut in history. Much of the rest of the money went to saving the jobs of teachers, cops and firefighters. I know what your alternative would be: bankrupt schools, higher crime, and less help when we need it. Other money is going to fix our roads, finally. The fact is we spent 785 billion dollars over several years to keep us out of the Bush depression. That's less than half of what we spent on defense over the same period. Surely, even you realize that the Bush depression was a national security risk.

The truth is come November, the majority is not going to vote for tea party candidates, nor are they going to be satisfied with the failed policies of Republicans past. 30 years of supplyside economics and deregulation have left us incredibly weak. If the banking crisis weren't enough, the BP oil spill is slick proof that industry self-regulation is a joke. Don't blame Obama for being inactive for a month, your side was asleep at the switch for decades. Obama inherited the Deepwater Horizon drill. Anyone can check the whitehouse posts and see the tremendous effort they have put into solving the BP oil spill. While Obama was busy working, the right wing like usual was busy running a PR campaign. It won't work, the American people want serious policy discussion, not the kind of hit pieces you post. Your blog is a wast of pixels.

As a Florida Democrat I would vote for Crist. Rubio scares the hell out of me!

Reagan said government is the problem! And lifted usary rate banks could charge. The 90's republican revolution, less government regulation! And now we have world wide wall street financial disasters. Less regulation oil spilling into the Gulf, peoples lives and businesses ruined. And interest rates on credit cards at 35% and higher, you might as well borrow from the mafia, they might break your legs, but they would heal before your credit rating! Be careful what you vote for, republicans are parroting the same montra. Rubio is talking the republican talk, but personal actions as big spender dead beat, not walking the walk! Crist is no longer a republican, not walking in lockstep with republicans, go Charlie!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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