As of right now, Crist is making a public speech tomorrow: while the content isn't fully known, the speculation is that Crist is going to run for the Senate as an No Party guy.
So what does this all mean in Florida?
Things to consider:
1) Crist is going to have the lead if only temporary, mostly because of his name recognition and the fact that non-Party Independent voters and party Moderates who had more love for Crist will have his back. But Crist is jumping into this election without the full backing or support of a Party: like it or not, political parties have the machinery to fund and push campaigns. Crist is going in without any major financial backers and almost no campaign workers with connections and experience. He's not going to bring a lot of state-level Republicans with him, and he's not going to get a lot of state-level Democrats who smell blood in the water.
2) Rubio doesn't have an easy run now that Crist is out of the GOP primary. The primary was easy because Rubio could pander to the Far Right for about four more months and not get into any trouble. Now that there's no primary, there's no reason to pander to the crazy base: NOW Rubio has to pander to the whole state of voters, meaning he's got to suck up to Moderates and Indys who make up the Undecided voters that everyone needs to, you know, ACTUALLY WIN. And there's ANOTHER problem on top of that: Rubio has NO CREDIBILITY selling himself as a Centrist or reasonable candidate. Everybody, and I mean EVERYONE, knows that Rubio drove Crist out of the GOP primary because Rubio was in the Far Right's pocket. I can't imagine any Moderate or Independent voter getting convinced that Rubio is MORE moderate than the obviously-moderate Crist. And on top of that, all it will take is one misstep in trying to pose as a Moderate for Rubio to anger up the Far Right. Rubio's got no margin for error and no chance to play to the whole voter spectrum.
3) The Democratic challenger, Meek, still has a tough road ahead of him. While the voting registers show a 700,000 increase in Democratic voters that could give Meek an edge, Crist is going to take away a lot of the Moderate and Independent voters the Democrats could have counted out if there had been a contested GOP primary. A bloody GOP fight would have coated Rubio as a Far Right wingnut well enough to allow Meek to convince the 33-35 percent of the middle-of-the-road crowd to lean Dem. Now? That 33-35 percent is with Crist, who has a bigger profile, a slightly better resume, and a track record of being open-minded (stopping voter record purges, being pro-Obama and pro-stimulus) to where even Democrats might think a vote for Crist will still serve their party well.
So for right now, the three-way race is up for grabs. Meek has the growing numbers, Rubio has the money, Crist has the marquee name.
The wild-card in all this. The credit card / tax dodge scandal. While Crist is not in the clear as some of his buddies are under investigation, Rubio himself is under investigation too. The good news for Crist is that he's jumping the GOP ship before they get torpedoed by the federal investigations into the state-wide party: Rubio does NOT have the luxury to avoid this issue. Oh, I'm sure the Republicans are going to mudsling on Crist that he's in it deep, but they can't explain away Rubio's name being in the mix: bringing up the credit card scandal is going to hurt Rubio as well as Crist. Strange days indeed.
Welcome to Florida!