(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist remains on top in a three-way battle for the Senate, according to a new poll. And a Quinnipiac University survey released Friday also indicates that strong name recognition and a positive approval rating may be helping Crist as he makes an independent bid for the state's open Senate seat.
Thirty-seven percent of Florida voters questioned in the poll say they'll back Crist, with 32 percent supporting former Sunshine State House Speaker Marco Rubio, the presumptive Republican nominee, 17 percent backing billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene, a Democratic Senate candidate, and 14 percent undecided.
If four-term Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek wins the August 24 primary, the poll indicates Crist at 39 percent, Rubio at 33 percent, Meek at 13 percent, and 15 percent undecided. According to a Quinnipiac survey released Thursday, Greene leads Meek by ten points with 35 percent undecided, in an increasingly bitter Democratic primary battle.
Once the overwhelming favorite in the battle for the Republican Senate nomination, Crist was trailing Rubio by more than 20 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll, when he announced in late April that he was dropping his bid for his party's nomination and would run for the Senate as a non-aligned candidate. Since then, Crist has led in most general election polling of the three-way Senate contest.
The new Quinnipiac survey indicates Crist's lead is based on grabbing half of independent voters, about one in five Republicans and about four in ten Democrats. According to the poll, 53 percent of Florida voters approve of the job Crist is doing as governor, with 37 percent saying they disapprove.
"There has been little movement in the Senate race over the past two months. Gov. Charlie Crist's small lead comes as neither Democrat breaks 20 percent in the trial heats. If that were to be the case in November, Gov. Crist would have a very good chance to win," says Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Peter A. Brown. "But if the Democratic nominee can move into the mid-to-high 20s, Crist's chances decrease substantially."
Only 13 percent of people questioned say they don't know enough about Crist to form an opinion of him. That number jumps to 38 percent for Rubio and to 64 percent for Greene and for Meek.
"At this point, Crist's edge is in name identification. When those numbers even out, as they will to a large degree, we'll have a better picture of how the race stands," adds Brown.
According to the survey, 50 percent disapprove of the job President Barack Obama's doing in the White House, with 46 percent saying they approve of his performance. The president's approval rating is up six points from June, with disapproval down four points.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted July 22-27, with 969 Florida registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
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