A new ad from the Florida Democratic Party (but “approved” by Kendrick Meek as part of the coordinated campaign) goes for the full Arlen Specter on Charlie Crist, stringing together quotes from his days as a Republican, on offshore drilling, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and being a “pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax conservative.” The goal is to further drive down Crist’s numbers, which have fallen in several polls, and pull Meek out of third place. The ad comes after Crist received two big Democratic endorsements, from former Congressman Robert Wexler, and former Democratic Party chairman Charles Whitehead. With a very short time left, Meek is trying to kill off Crist’s candidacy, and make it a two-way race between himself and Marco Rubio. Watch the ad below:
The fact that the ad is coming from the party, and not from the Meek campaign itself, is an indication of who has money in the bank. According to the last FEC reports, the Meek camp had about $2.6 million cash on hand, versus nearly $4.5 million for Rubio (who is also getting tons of air support from outside interest groups backed by big business) and more than $8 million for Crist. Meek is operating without national party spending, so the coordinated campaign is key to his strategy over the next 34 days, including both advertising and field. We’ll see what, if any, reaction there is to the ad from the Crist campaign.
And per Politico’s morning score, more on the spot:
The commercial is running in select broadcast markets throughout Florida, including the politically pivotal I-4 corridor, according to a source familiar with the buy. The FDP ad comes days after a Mason-Dixon poll showed Crist’s support dropping to 28 percent, just five points ahead of Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and 12 points behind Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio. Meek had a seven-point lead among Democrats, and the new spot’s closing frames won’t help Crist make up that gap.
A seven-point lead among Democrats against a recent “conservative Republican” — that’s the heart of the problem for Meek, as is the Public Policy Polling estimate that he, like most Democrats running statewide this year, is underperforming among African-Americans, with a 49 percent approval rating versus 79 percent for President Obama. Getting Meek from third place to a lead, meaning he’d need to make up about 18 points in a month, is a pretty daunting task in and of itself, since Rubio is sitting comfortably at around 40 percent, with only one opponent attacking him. And it’s arguable that Rubio has been the biggest beneficiary of the Meek strategy of focusing the vast majority of its attacks on Crist. But Team Meek is prioritizing peeling off Democratic voters who are defecting to Charlie, over making the case either for Meek or against Marco Rubio. We’ll soon find out if that strategy makes sense.