Ever since Charlie Crist launched his independent bid for Florida Senate's seat, Democrats have had two opportunities to win the three-way contest -- either with Crist (who would likely caucus with the Senate Dems) or with the Dem nominee (Kendrick Meek).
But polls increasingly point to the third option taking place: Republican Marco Rubio winning.
A new Quinnipiac poll has Rubio at 46% among likely voters, with Crist at 33% and Meek at 18%. That matches a new CNN/Time poll, which has Rubio at 42%, Crist at 31%, and Meek at 23%.
What appears to be happening is that Crist and Meek are dividing the anti-Rubio/Republican vote. And that's even playing out in the TV ad battle.
In recent days, the Meek campaign and Florida Democratic Party have aired a new TV ad hitting Crist for conservative positions and statements the Florida governor has made in the past.
Meanwhile, Crist has an ad blasting both Meek and Rubio.
So the question becomes: Are the Meek and Crist camps engaging in mutually assured destruction, guaranteeing a Rubio win?
Meek spokesman Adam Sharon argues that there is no path to victory for Crist, while there is one for Meek (by consolidating the Democratic vote). Sharon adds that as polls continue to show Meek ticking up -- and Crist ticking down -- the Meek camp will begin to engage Rubio if they pull ahead of Crist. "Once we turn the corner and get ahead of Crist ... then it becomes a totally different race."
Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff tells First Read: “Besides fighting to ensure Kendrick Meek is our next U.S. senator because it is the right thing to do, Florida Democrats know that Kendrick is the only candidate who can beat Marco Rubio. Kendrick is the only candidate who can stop Rubio’s extreme philosophical agenda -- the Tea Party agenda that Rubio wants to impose on Florida.”