In a three-way race between Republican Marco Rubio, Democratic Representative Kendrick Meek, and current Republican Governor Charlie Crist running as an Independent candidate, Crist would win, according to a new Quinnipiac poll (32% Crist, 30% Rubio, 24% Meek). That theoretical three-way contest is very close at this point, and could be anyone's race. It also appears right now to be Crist's only hope of becoming a United States senator because he is currently being crushed Rubio in the closed Republican primary (56% Rubio, 33% Crist).
If Crist did manage to some how pull off a huge upset in the Republican primary, he would stand a better chance than Rubio of winning the general election. While both Rubio and Crist would currently beat Meek in a head-to-head match up, Crist would win by a significantly wider margin. In the head-to-head match ups, it is 48% for Crist versus 34% for Meek, and 42% for Rubio versus 38% for Meek.
From the poll, it seem that, of the three politicians, Crist is the one that most Floridians would probably prefer at this moment to be their next senator. The polling at this point indicates he would win a head-to-head match up against Meek, and it probably can be inferred that he would beat Rubio, if they faced off against each other in a two person race in the general election. Of all three candidates, Meek is polling the worst.
This potential situation in Florida again shows the need for election reform like instant runoff voting, so elections like this can best reflect the will of the people.
As it stands now, because of the winner take all rules, Meek could actually win a three-way race by locking down roughly 36% of the vote with core Democratic voters, and having Rubio and Crist split the center-right, even though, in a head-to-head match up, a majority of the voters in Florida might prefer Rubio or Crist over Meek. It is equally possible Rubio could win by running a hard-right, ultra-conservative campaign that, while strongly alienating the majority of Floridians, lets him win the race by securing 38% of the vote with mainly fired-up conservatives. Instant run-off voting could prevent this scenario by allowing voters to state that if their preferred candidate comes in third place, they can have their vote reassigned to their second-favorite choice.
Instant run-off voting would allow the people of Florida to vote their conscience and select the individual they personally think would be the best senator without fear that by voting for their top choice they might allow their least favorite of the three candidates to win. Without it, any potential three-way race in Florida might come down to a lot of people not voting for who they most want to be senator, but instead voting for the person they think has the best chance of preventing the candidates they hate from winning.