Today, with seven more months in the primary campaign, they are tied.
The Associated Press reports:
Former Florida legislator Marco Rubio has closed the gap in the race for the state's Republican U.S. Senate nomination and is in a virtual dead heat with Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a poll released Tuesday.The same poll showed both Crist and Rubio with large polling leads over Democratic front-runner U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami.
Rubio, a lawyer who served as Speaker of the House, was once considered a long shot against Crist, who has widespread name recognition and a significant fundraising lead. But with Florida's primary seven months away, Rubio was favored by 47 percent compared with 44 percent who preferred Crist - statistically a tie in the Quinnipiac University poll that has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
The random telephone survey, which included 673 GOP voters, was conducted Jan. 20-24.
"The horse race numbers are not a fluke," said Peter Brown, assistant polling director for Quinnipiac in Connecticut. "Rubio's grassroots campaigning among Republican activists around the state clearly has paid off."
The latest survey marks a stunning turnaround for the 38-year-old Rubio, a conservative who trailed Crist by 31 points in a Quinnipiac survey taken in June.
Read the details of the poll here.