With numerous potential Republican candidates —including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush —Fabrizio said the next presidential race will have no preferred establishment candidate for the first time in decades.
“It means there’s going to be a bloody, bloody battle for the nomination,” said Fabrizio, who has conducted surveys from the United States for presidential candidate Bob Dole in 1996 to Mongolia, where he once went “yurt to yurt” to conduct surveys.
Getting Scott re-elected will be a challenge, too.
Fabrizio acknowledged Scott’s approval ratings are only in the “40s.” The last Quinnipiac University poll, in June, indicated Crist would beat Scott by 10 percentage points while Scott would beat Rich by eight.
But Scott has a massive personal fortune and spent a considerable amount of personal money, $75.1 million, along with about $25 million from donors and the party in 2010. Scott is prepared for another $100 million campaign, but this time he won’t have to burn much of it in a GOP primary as he did four years before.
Rich, a former state senator from Weston, has money problems and name-identification issues. She has raised just $160,000 in a year and spent $101,000 of it as of June 30, the last reporting period for which data are available.
To mount a successful statewide campaign in Florida, a candidate often needs a minimum of $10 million.
Never expecting outside help, Rich said, she has crisscrossed the state and “will never drop out.”
Campaign contributions are limited to $3,000 in Florida per donor, but outside groups can raise and spend unlimited sums to trash or help candidates. If Scott’s team decides to furnish Rich indirect help, it would be through one of these groups known as an Electioneering Communication Organization.
“If I had to guess, there are going to be concerned citizens that are interested in seeing that the Democratic Party stays true to their citizens,” Fabrizio said cryptically with a wink.
“We want to see the easiest opponent possible,” he acknowledged. “Are we afraid of Charlie Crist? Not in the least bit. Not in the least bit.”
Fabrizio pointed out that Crist once ran as a conservative but now says he’s more of a centrist Democrat. In addition, Crist term as governor through the economic crisis was marked with economic hardship, job loss and budget deficits.
Since then, the economy has improved and Scott is poised to take a measure of credit.
Crist has blamed the global economic recession for the problems that happened under his watch and credited President Obama’s fixes — not Scott’s — for improving the economy. He’s also writing a book that paints the GOP as so extremist that it left him.
Fabrizio dismissed the book as “fiction” and said he hopes Crist announces soon so they can pound him.
“Once he becomes a candidate, he has a big bull’s eye on his back… And not just from the Republican Party of Florida, but from the Democrats themselves,” Fabrizio said. “The average rank and file voter, yeah, they want to beat Rick Scott. But they’re not sure they want to sell their souls to beat Rick Scott.”