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The Odd Couple

President Obama and Florida governor Charlie Crist will make an unlikely pair as they join forces this afternoon in Fort Myers for a town hall meeting on the economic stimulus package roiling Capitol Hill. But the two share more than the stage, the Democratic president and the Republican governor are among the most popular politicians in the Sunshine State.

Both are viewed favorably by about two-thirds of Floridians, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last month. In that poll Crist and Obama each had sky-high favorable ratings from political independents, lending the partnership added significance. Both Crist, who faces reelection in 2010, and Obama are betting political capital on the success of the stimulus package.

Florida's economy has been hard hit by the economic crisis, with an unemployment rate that's nearly doubled over the past year. In the Fort Myers area, the rate has hit double-digits. As Crist took office in 2007, the rate stood at 3 percent.

And Obama's popularity could benefit from having Crist join him on stage. Though the president's favorability among Florida Republicans is lukewarm at best (36 percent have a favorable view), moderates in the party have a more positive view (50 percent view Obama favorably), and Crist's backing may help solidfy that support. Six in 10 Democrats overall and two-thirds of moderate Democrats have a favorable take on Crist.

Besides having broader cross-party support, Crist is also the more popular figure in the region: According to Quinnipiac's polling, 73 percent hold a favorable opinion of the governor in Southwestern Florida, 62 percent have a positive take on the president. GOP nominee John McCain topped Obama 55 percent to 44 percent in Lee County in the November election.

Favorability Among Independents

Barack Obama

[Chart]

Charlie Crist

[Chart]

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  February 10, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Comments

Governor Crist, begging at the door of the federal gov’t is shameful. This is a Republic – states need to take care of their own issues. You simply don’t measure up as a governor if you can’t balance your own budget – the rest of us at home are doing that, cutting back, making necessary changes in our lives in order to make ends meet. We are taking pay cuts, so should you. We are cutting out excess, so should you – across the board.

It is embarrassing that these irresponsible states don’t manage themselves but are selling their souls for a bailout. I saw you today introducing Obama and showing his pork-laden spending bill, and I nearly threw something at my television. There are states with surpluses, but all the failed states get rewarded with a bailout! And you know they are going to spend it on ridiculous pork, just like the Feds. Fools. My 6 year old could tell you that this is wrong – anyone who’s read the story of the ants and the grasshopper gets it.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 10, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Floridians, like myself who truely care about improving our state and the country do not look so closely at labels. Amazing opportunities are possible because of strong leadership from our new president and Gov. Charlie Crist. My husband, Richard Paey, was one of the rare individuals that was granted clemency in Florida in September 07. It was a bold move that righted a wrong by the FLorida judicial system. Jeb Bush refused to take any risk by granting clemency yet Charlie Crist did, and the manner in which they did could not have been any more exciting than that of a Hollywood movie. Leadership of this caliber is unusual in politics of this day and it is dearly needed in the challenging days ahead.

Dr Linda Paey

Posted by: drlindapaey | February 15, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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