Rubio gains on Crist

Marco Rubio has dramatically cut Crist’s lead in the Republican primary to 15 percentage points, as the race appears to be taking on a whole new life.

Rubio, who recently announced that he raised a solid $1 million in the third quarter, on Wednesday learned that Quinnipiac University has him chopping Crist’s lead in the polls in half. While Rubio trailed 55 to 26 percent two months ago, he is now holding the popular governor to 50 percent of the primary vote and trails 50-35.

The results resemble a reported Chamber of Commerce poll that had Crist up 44-30 and stirred talk of some unrest in the centrist governor’s camp.

And it is good news for a Rubio campaign that has been trying to prove to potential donors and endorsers that it is for real.

The big question in the coming weeks and months will be whether the same conservative types who have rallied against the GOP special-election nominee in New York — the Club for Growth, etc. — get behind Rubio. The one thing holding them back was questions about whether he has a chance in the closed primary, and he seems to have answered it to a large degree.

Rubio has very good numbers among Republicans, with 44 percent viewing him favorably and just 3 percent unfavorably. Crist is seen positively by 63 percent of GOPers, with 30 percent having a negative view of him.

In the general election, Crist holds a wide lead over Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), 51 to 31 percent. But if Rubio can win the primary, he would start by trailing Meek, 36-33.

—A.B.

No Frontline expansion planned


Poor fundraising numbers are not enough to put three Democratic incumbents on the party’s most endangered list.

Reps. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) and Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) were all outraised by their Republican opponents during the last three months. That has some Democrats nervous that the three would be among the incumbents taken by surprise if a Republican wave hits.

But Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said he’s not hitting the panic button just yet.

“We’re not going to add them to Frontline,” Van Hollen said, referring to the party’s program for monitoring potentially vulnerable incumbents.

“Everybody is prepared for a tough, competitive election.”

After big Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008, the list of members involved in the Frontline Program is already higher than ever before. This year, 42 Democrats are on the list, up from 34 members last cycle. Those on the list have their fundraising, organizational and press outreach monitored closely.

Van Hollen has privately warned every member of his caucus that this year is going to be more difficult. After this quarter’s fundraising performance, expect that mantra to be repeated.

“Our members have taken a look at the numbers, they’ve looked at their competitors and they’re prepared,” Van Hollen said. Still, he admitted: “Some have been moving faster than others.”

— R.W.

Single women emerge as questionable Dem voter group


Much has been made of the potential drops in black and young voters being a potential game-changer for Republicans in 2010.

But one group could pose just as much of a drop-off problem for Democrats: single women.

Women’s Voices Women Vote is a grassroots group that works to register and turn out groups that are traditionally underrepresented at the polls.

In a recent survey, it asked 2008 voters how likely they were to vote in 2010, and noted the number who did not reply with a 10 on a scale of one to 10.

While 83 percent of young people and 46 percent of African-Americans fell into this category, single women fell right in between, at 64 percent.

For a group that constitutes about a quarter of the U.S. population, such a drop could really make a difference. While married women tend to split their vote pretty evenly, unmarried women skew heavily toward Democrats.

In the Nov. 3 governor’s race in New Jersey, for example, they favored Gov. Jon Corzine (D), 57 to 25 percent, in the most recent Democracy Corps (D) poll. And in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, they favored Democrat Creigh Deeds, 61-36, in the most recent Washington Post poll.

Women’s Voice Women Vote will be watching these races closely and conducting exit polling for clues about what to expect in 2010.

Stay tuned.

—A.B.

More in Senate

Team Rubio: Jeb won't push us out of 2016

Read more »