If this Rasmussen poll were an outlier and not the confirmation of a trend in the Florida Senate race, maybe Charlie Crist would still have a chance. But barring scandal, Marco Rubio is going to be the Republican nominee.

Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio has now jumped to a 12-point lead over Governor Charlie Crist in Florida’s Republican Primary race for the U.S. Senate.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely GOP Primary voters in the state finds Rubio leading Crist 49% to 37%. Three percent (3%) prefer another candidate, and 11% are undecided.

The new numbers mark a stunning turnaround. Crist was the strong favorite when he first announced for the Senate seat, and Rubio was viewed as a long-shot challenger.

But Crist’s support fell from 53% in August to 49% in October. By December, the two men were tied at 43% apiece.

Rubio leads Crist by 17 points among men and by seven among women. He also carries 52% of the conservative GOP vote, while moderates prefer Crist.

You don’t bounce out of that trend and suddenly surge back 12 points. Crist has two choice if he wants to get to the Senate in November – become an independent or a Democrat, or buy a plane ticket. The option of winning as a Republican appears closed.

David Dayen

David Dayen