Still-GOP/almost-IND Senatorial candidate Gov. Charlie Crist (FL)

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.

UPDATE 2: The St. Petersburg Times also has Crist jumping the GOP for an indie bid. This is the second senate race changed by a conservative insurgency, and, as Jon Walker reports, their could be more to come.

David Dayen

David Dayen