If Crist does win the Democratic primary, he will take on the increasingly unpopular Scott (left), who was elected as part of the Tea Party wave in 2010. A recent Public Policy Polling survey put Scott's favorability at 33 percent and his unfavorability at 55 percent, a boon to any opponent he should face. Crist, meanwhile, received a roughly even favorable-unfavorable opinion in that same poll. As a response, Scott has already begun negative advertising against Crist, signaling what will likely be a full year of negativity, The Miami Herald explains. A negative campaign will only help Scott because negativity depresses turnout, which has traditionally helped the Republican candidate in Florida, the Herald writes.
Both Scott and Rich have already accused Crist of flip-flopping, citing his switches on Obamacare, immigration reform, and gay marriage, among others. "I don't think it's going to be a slam dunk [for Crist]," University of South Florida Professor of Political Science Dr. Susan MacManus told Florida's WTSP. "[Rich] appeals to women voters and there are still a number of Democrats who are a little bit nervous about someone they see as a carpetbagger." Still, Florida's swing-state status makes predicting Crist's fate difficult. "There's no textbook case study to understand how Florida voters will evaluate Governor Crist's candidacy," Justin Sayfie, a former aide to ex-Gov. Jeb Bush, told Huffington Post.
As we noted back in May, party-switching politicians generally trend move based on that time's presidential approval (or disapproval), hoping to rise with the growing public tide. With Obama's approval down to 39 percent in Gallup poll today, though, that doesn't seem to be the case with Crist. However, there are several similar cases relevant to Crist's plans. With history as a guide, we can see if Crist's party-switching move will pay off. We compiled some key examples that Crist can use as a guide.
Candidate: Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania senator
Party: GOP from 1981-2010, Democrat from 2010-2012.
Why switch? Long a moderate Republican, Specter switched because he felt he could not win a Republican primary, The New York Times wrote, particularly after his vote for the stimulus package.
Did it work? No. Specter lost instead to a Democratic primary challenger.
Relevance to Crist: It's perhaps the most similar to Crist's situation now, as Specter realized he would have to avoid a Republican primary to win. He failed to do so despite his long tenure in the Senate, and that doesn't bode well for Crist.
Candidate: Joe Lieberman, Connecticut senator.
Party: Democrat from 1989-2006, Independent from 2006-2012.
Why switch? Faced with liberal opposition because of his support of the Iraq War and moderate positions, Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in 2006, and so switched to run on an independent platform in that election, according to The Washington Post.