A new University of North Florida poll reveals Charlie Crist has a 4-percentage point lead over Gov. Rick Scott (44 to 40 percent) among registered voters in the gubernatorial race.
The key to Crist's lead is support from Independents (41 to 33 percent), according to the poll.
Crist has not officially announced his candidacy.
Michael Binder, whose research team conducted the poll, points to Crist's notoriety as former governor, former Senate candidate and former Republican as reasons for why he's leading.
"They're both doing well within their own party, assuming you call Crist a Democrat, which it looks like that's what he is this week," Binder said. "So they're each winning their base, but Crist is winning with those independents."
The poll also finds Scott leading Sen. Nan Rich (43 to 28 percent). Rich is a Democrat who has officially entered the race.
"She is struggling with her own base, barely getting 50 percent of Democrats, which is just, if you have trouble with your base, it's a sunken ship," Binder said. "And she's losing independents to Rick Scott. A lot of this is name recognition."
"Somebody like Nan Rich, who needs name recognition, needs to get in early, needs to get in often to build out her name portfolio," Binder added. "Crist doesn't have that. He can come in January, February, say, "OK, I'm here. Let's start the process off.'"
Additionally, the poll shows that Scott's job-approval rating among registered voters sits at 49 percent.
Fifty-four percent of registered Florida voters feel that Medicaid should be expanded to cover more Floridians. However, only 41 percent of the registered voters would be willing to pay more for health care so that everyone may have access to health care in Florida.
The Public Opinion Research Laboratory at UNF conducted the survey with the use of a 27-station telephone-polling laboratory on campus. A sample of the polling universe was selected through the use of Random-Digit-Dialing methodology. An additional cellphone sample was used to increase representation.
To ensure geographic diversity, the state was pre-weighted into seven strata. The survey was conducted in Spanish for those respondents who wished to complete the survey in Spanish. Gender, age, education, race and party registration are weighted to statistics from the census and Florida Division of Elections for the state of Florida.
The survey was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 8 and includes 526 registered voters (+/- 4.27) in the state of Florida. About 180 UNF political science students participated in the data collection.