Could Charlie Crist make a glorious return to politics?

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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Will Charlie Crist be able to weasel his way back onto the national political scene? If a new Sunshine State News poll is any indication, the “second coming of Crist” could be a reality.

Crist served as Florida’s Republican governor, but when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010  he switched his party affiliation to “independent” to avoid a tough primary fight against the election’s eventual winner, Sen. Marco Rubio. Crist lost by nearly 20 points. (Why Marco Rubio might turn down that ‘arranged marriage’)

But now, a new poll finds Crist has higher favorability ratings than both of Florida’s current senators. Forty-two percent of Floridians like Crist, compared with 33 percent who don’t. Meanwhile, favorability ratings for Sens. Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D) fall short oft the 40 percent mark.

Rubio holds a favorable/unfavorable ranking of 38-34. Nelson’s numbers are lower still. Up for reelection in 2012, Nelson holds a 32-27 favorable/unfavorable rating. And despite his serving two terms as senator and as a congressman from the state, 41 percent of Floridians either have no opinion or don’t even know who he is.

Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, told the Sunshine State News that Crist’s potential political comeback shouldn’t worry Republicans too much. “While it’s somewhat surprising that Crist has a better total fav/unfav than Rubio, the key is that Rubio is still the darling of Republicans (60-16) while Crist’s standing with the GOP is inverted 42-31 (negative/ positive).”

In fact, Crist’s strongest support comes from Democrats. His favorability number with the party is sky-high, at 55 percent. Crist may want to look into running as a Democrat — a Sunshine State News story from May quoted several political strategists suggesting he do just that in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

The poll of 1,000 registered likely voters was conducted July 5-7.