Can Crist come back? The problem of early voting.

With the news that former President Bill Clinton tried to push Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., out of his Senate race, the possibility of a Charlie Crist resurrection now emerges. The theory is that Democrats will give up on Meek and back Crist, who is running as an independent candidate, over Republican Marco Rubio.

But then there’s the issue of early voting. As of tonight, GMU professor Mike McDonald’s tally shows that 1.6 million votes have already been cast in Florida. (Registered Republicans still have an overwhelming advantage in the numbers, by the way, and are easily outperforming previous years.) That’s roughly one-third the number of votes cast in 2006, the last midterm. So the question is whether Crist can make up enough ground within a dwindling voter pool in the next few days, as Meek’s candidacy becomes even more irrelevant than it has been all along.

UPDATE: I just noticed over on Geraghty’s blog at NR that Rubio’s campaign had a comment on this very issue. It’s always dicey to trust campaigns when they reveal internal polling toplines, but this is so amazing if  true that it’s worth throwing out there:

Among those who have already voted, our internal polling actually shows Meek beating Crist 28% to 24%.

Take the difference, give two points to minor candidates, and Rubio is leading Crist by 22 points. With so many votes already cast, that comes to 350,000 votes separating the two so far — possibly an insurmountable margin in a three-way race.

Charlie Crist’s best day as an independent was probably his first day. I’m sure he once considered a run at the presidency, but this campaign, plus the Jim Greer situation, will probably mean the end of his career in public life.

Beltway Confidentialelection 2010FLUS

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