CNN Poll: Florida gubernatorial race all tied up

Democrat Charlie Crist, a former Republican Florida governor, is challenging incumbent Gov. Rick Scott this year.

Story highlights

  • Rick Scott and Charlie Crist each have 44% of support from likely voters
  • That's according to a new CNN/ORC International poll
  • The survey also indicates that a majority of voters have unfavorable views of both men
  • A Libertarian candidate has a significant amount of support
It's a tied race between two unpopular men.
Three weeks before Election Day, Florida incumbent Gov. Rick Scott finds himself in a neck-and-neck sprint to the finish line against Democratic challenger and former Gov. Charlie Crist.
According to a new CNN/ORC International poll, each candidate has the support of 44% of likely voters, while Libertarian Adrian Wyllie pulls a significant share (9%) of the vote. With the race so close, Wyllie's support sets the stage for a potential Libertarian spoiler.
"And with one in five likely voters saying that they could change their minds between now and Election Day, it's really anyone's ballgame," said CNN polling director Keating Holland. The survey was done October 9-13 with 610 likely voters and has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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Scott and Crist are familiar faces in Florida. Crist was governor in the term immediately preceding Scott's. Crist, however, was a Republican at the time. He became an independent during an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010, then became a Democrat in 2012.
His party switch has become a major line of attack against Crist. But the former governor and his new Democratic allies say the Republican Party has taken a different ideological track in recent years.
"Hell, he didn't leave the (GOP). It left him," Vice President Joe Biden said Monday in Florida, while campaigning for Crist.
Scott was elected in the tea party wave of 2010 with campaign promises to make big cuts and take on public unions. Despite holding true to his pledges and his state seeing a steady rise in economic growth, Scott's approval ratings have slipped dramatically.
While both candidates are widely known in the state, it appears voters are split on who they like less. A majority of likely voters, 53%, have an unfavorable view of Crist, and a majority, 52%, also have an unfavorable view of Scott.
"One thing is certain: This year's race is not a popularity contest," Holland said. "That may explain why a third-party candidate is in the high single digits."
With two prominent names in the mix, the contest has been one of the most closely watched races of 2014.
Crist threw his hat in the ring with much fanfare late last year, and early polls indicated he has a sizable advantage over Scott. But the race tightened this year, and the high-profile appeal of the race and its swing-state dynamics have attracted big-name surrogates on both sides.
In addition to Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigned for Crist this month, and first lady Michelle Obama will do a fundraiser for Crist on Friday in Orlando.
On Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will turn out for Scott. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, it will mark Christie's fourth trip to the state this year. Fellow Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has also shown up for Scott.
CNN will air a debate between Crist and Scott on October 21. The hourlong debate will air exclusively at 7 p.m. ET on CNN and WJXT and take place in WJXT's studios in Jacksonville, Florida. CNN's Jake Tapper, chief Washington correspondent and anchor of CNN's "The Lead," will moderate with WJXT anchor Kent Justice joining in the questioning.​