With Election Day a mere five days away, the governor's race continues to look like a photo finish. But, in a seemingly last-minute twist, Qunnipiac University's latest poll (and last before the election) has given Charlie Crist a slight edge over Rick Scott. The number increases a bit when Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is factored out of the running.
And, among those who have already cast their ballots, Crist is edging Scott by 1 percentage point.
The reason, says Qunnipiac, might be coming down to Independent voters.
On October 22, a day after Scott and Crist held their third and final debate, Quinnipiac had the two candidates tied at 42 percent, with Wylie bringing in 7 percent.
But since then there's been a slight shift, and now a poll released Thursday has Crist up over Scott 43-40 percent. Independent voters are giving Crist a big 47-29 percent boost, with 16 percent going to Wyllie.
"Independent voters are often the difference in swing states like Florida, but the size of former Gov. Charlie Crist's lead among them is truly remarkable," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll in a statement.
Brown adds that if Crist has helped himself in showing Independent voters the image of a pragmatist, and someone who isn't an ideologue. According to Brown, the very thing the Scott campaign has used to attack Crist -- the fact that he's a flip flopper who jumped parties -- might be the one thing that can hand him the race.
"It may turn out that Crist's change from Republican to independent to Democrat branded him as the kind of less political politician with the most important voter group," Brown says. "If Crist can win independents by 20 points on Election Day, he will be difficult to beat."
Favorability has always been an issue with both candidates. Back in September, both Qunnipiac and SurveyUSA/WFLA polls had the race in a dead heat, but made it clear that voters were not enamored with either candidate.
But the latest Qunnipiac poll gives Crist another edge, having him split 45-45 percent in favorability, while Scott is bringing in just a 41 percent favorability.
In more positive news for Crist, Qunnipiac says that 90 percent of voters who say they're going to vote for a certain candidate this close to election day have already definitely made up their mind.
While it's not specified, it might be that the debates and, perhaps, Fangate, had something to do with the uptick in Crist's favor.
"It would be a reasonable hypothesis that the candidates' debates made a big difference in this race," Brown says. "Scott was ahead going into them and behind after them. It could be a coincidence, but it would be a pretty large coincidence. Crist has long been thought of as an excellent campaigner and he used those skills to his advantage."
Quinnipiac University surveyed 817 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.
You can see the full results below:
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