Charlie Crist to run as an Independent; who cares?
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. Yesterday, Charlie Crist proved to one and all that he is an egomaniac when he announced he will run for the U.S. Senate as an Independent after his hug of Obama, his support of the stimulus bill, and his vetoing of a reform of Florida public school teacher tenure ended any chance of his winning a Republican primary. (Actually, the last act was almost certainly in preparation for running as an Independent and is an act of such tremendous hypocrisy that it's hard to see how it doesn't hurt him in any and every scenario.)
In effect, the move takes Crist from having zero chance of winning to having an infinitesimally small chance of winning. So I suppose from his point of view that it represents an infinite improvement in percentage terms.
At least that's how I see it. On Intrade.com, however (on Thursday night), bettors give Crist a better chance than I do. As it's become clearer in the last two weeks that Crist would make this move, betting odds for someone other than the Democrat or Republican to win have gone from 6% to about 30%. The odds of the Democrat winning are essentially unchanged, about 23%. And the odds of a Republican, now only Marco Rubio, winning have dropped from about 75% to about 50%.
I hadn't looked at the betting lines until I started writing this note. I'm really surprised to see Crist trading so high. Who's gonna want this guy? Liberals will vote for the real liberal. Conservatives will vote for the real conservative. Independents are going to see him as the narcissistic opportunist he is. So I'm trying to sell Crist (actually Other) at 30% and buy Rubio (actually Republican) at 46%.
The Club for Growth will lead a push to get previous donors to Crist to demand refunds of their contributions, similar to an effort they led against Arlen Specter when he switched parties. In the meantime, although Crist has over $7 million cash on hand, he's claiming he's spent all the donations. The Club believes that Crist is stalling so that he can hurry up and buy all his TV time in advance, and then be accurate that he's spent all the money. Does Crist really think that the TV buys will be more positive than the damage that comes from essentially stealing peoples' money and lying about it, both of which will be transparently true to everyone? Just who is going to vote for this guy? My hunch is that Crist gets between 10% and 15% of the vote in November.
[UPDATE: I sold some Crist at 29.8%.]
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