Two new polls show different outcomes in the three-way race for the U.S. Senate between former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Miami), Governor Charlie Crist, the former Republican now running with no party affiliation, and the leading Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-17th Congressional District). Both polls show Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum continuing to lead in the contest to succeed Gov. Crist.

In a survey of 500 likely voters conducted by Rasmussen Reports on May 16, 2010, Mr. Rubio was supported by 39 percent of respondents, Gov. Crist was supported by 31 percent, and Rep. Meek was supported by 18 percent, with 12 percent undecided. The May 16 results were similar to an April 21 Rasmussen poll in which Mr. Rubio led Gov. Crist by 37 percent to 30 percent. A May 3 Rasmussen poll, in which Gov. Crist led Mr. Rubio by 38 percent to 34 percent, may have reflected a temporary bounce from the governor's April 30 announcement of his decision to leave the Republican Party and run as a no-party-affiliation candidate.

The May 16 Rasmussen poll also showed the leading Republican candidate for governor, Attorney General McCollum, leading his Democratic opponent, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, by 43 percent to 35 percent, with 11 percent favoring some other candidate and 11 percent undecided. In an April 15 Rasmussen poll, Attorney General McCollum led CFO Sink by 45 percent to 38 percent.

Rasmussen Reports also polled on a hypothetical matchup between CFO Sink and another Republican gubernatorial candidate, businessman Rick Scott. Mr. Scott is running an extensive media campaign, having reportedly spent $4.7 million in one month on radio and television. In the Rasmussen poll, Mr. Scott led CFO Sink by 41 percent to 40 percent, with seven percent favoring some other candidate and 12 percent undecided.

The margin of error for the Rasmussen poll is 4.5 percentage points.

A poll of 607 registered voters conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs from May 14 through May 18, 2010 for several Florida newspapers and television stations showed Gov. Crist leading in the Senate race. According to the Ipsos poll, 30 percent of respondents favored Gov. Crist, 27 percent favored Mr. Rubio, and 15 percent favored Mr. Meek.

The Ipsos poll also indicated a closer race for governor, showing Attorney General McCollum with 34 percent of the general election vote and CFO Sink with 32 percent. In the Republican primary contest between the attorney general, Mr. Scott, and Sen. Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland), Attorney General McCollum had the support of 46 percent of the registered Republicans surveyed, Mr. Scott had the support of 22 percent, and Sen. Dockery had the support of three percent. On May 24, Sen. Dockery announced that she was ending her campaign for governor.

The Ipsos survey also polled on two of the more controversial current political issues. Respondents were asked whether Gov. Crist should sign or veto recently enacted legislation (HB 1143) that prohibits the use of state funds for abortions and generally requires women seeking abortions to undergo and review ultrasound tests. Gov. Crist has made several public statements indicating that he intends to veto the bill, which he called “almost mean-spirited.” Among all respondents, 55 percent favored a veto, 31 percent opposed a veto, and 14 percent were undecided. A veto also was favored by 60 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of Republicans.

The survey also asked about a possible amendment to the Florida Constitution that would ban oil and gas drilling within state waters. Gov. Crist has said he intends to call a special session of the Legislature to propose such an amendment. The poll showed an even split, with 44 percent of respondents supporting a constitutional ban on drilling, 44 percent opposed, and 11 percent undecided. Democrats supported the ban by a margin of 48 percent to 41 percent, while 38 percent of Republicans supported the ban and 51 percent were opposed.

The Ipsos poll of registered voters had a margin of error of four percentage points, except that the margin of error for Democrat-only and Republican-only responses was six percentage points.

In another development that may affect the U.S. Senate contest, the Florida AFL-CIO on May 23 voted to endorse Rep. Meek, even though the state's largest teachers' union, the Florida Education Association, had on the previous day decided to endorse both Rep. Meek and Gov. Crist.