Tomorrow we will discover Charlie Crist’s decision on whether to leave the Republican Party and run for the US Senate as an independent. And apparently, he’s taken a look at the idea in a poll, and saw numbers he liked:

According to multiple Republican sources, Crist conducted a poll on Monday and Tuesday to test his viability as an independent and got numbers back that encouraged him that there was a path to victory running without any major party affiliation.

Those same sources warn, however, that Crist has shown a propensity to change his mind on things abruptly in the past (see Giuliani, Rudy) and that until he officially announces his independent candidacy it won’t be a done deal.

The expectation, then, is that he will make it a three-way race, but we’ll know for sure tomorrow.

This sets up an interesting proposition. The electorate certainly seems anti-incumbent, and yet the incumbent Governor in this case would be running without the imprimatur of either party. I maintain that this will be a hindrance and not a help, that his incumbency will stick with him while the advantages of incumbency – namely a party machine for GOTV and fundraising – will fade. Those polls Crist looked at probably represent the high-water mark of his candidacy. However, it does throw the race into some turmoil, with Rubio, Crist or even Democrat Kendrick Meek in the position to win.

I also imagine that, after the travails of the past year, Crist would caucus with Democrats and not Republicans, if he got to Washington.

UPDATE: Fox News is now reporting this as fact. I’d say it’s 90/10 that Crist goes indie at this point.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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