June 17, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: Strongest GOP challenger to Hillary Clinton in Florida is Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio's popularity surge since announcing his 2016 presidential campaign in April makes him the strongest Republican challenger in his home state of Florida -- at least for now -- against Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a new public-opinion poll.

Clinton leads Rubio 47-44 percent in Florida, the survey by Quinnipiac University shows. Rubio also polls well in two other swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, even if he's not the GOP candidate in the tightest match-ups against Clinton in those cases.

In Ohio, potential contender and Gov. John Kasich leads Clinton 47-44 percent. Rubio trails her 45-42 percent. In Pennsylvania, she ekes ahead of Rubio 44-43 percent.

With error margins of 3 percentage points in Florida, 2.8 percentage points in Ohio and 3.2 percentage points in Pennsylvania, most of the match-ups effectively show ties. So early in the 2016 race, the more important takeaway is the trend from several polls showing Rubio on the upswing, according to Peter A. Brown, the poll's assistant director.

"It's a long way until Election Day, but in the critical swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has a tiny edge over the GOP field," Brown said in a statement.

Eight other hopefuls are "within striking distance" in at least one of the three states, he noted. That includes newly announced candidate Jeb Bush, whom Clinton leads 46-42 percent in Florida, 42-41 percent in Ohio and 45-41 percent in Pennsylvania.

Clinton continues to struggle in survey questions asking voters if she is honest and trustworthy.

May 28, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: No leader in GOP presidential field

@PatriciaMazzei

The more candidates that jump into the 2016 Republican presidential race, the less clear the field appears in voters' eyes, according to a new poll.

The national survey by Quinnipiac University found five contenders atop the growing list, which means no one is the front-runner. Among the five are both Miami hopefuls, former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and two more Florida residents, physician Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, along with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. All poll at 10 percent each.

Comprising the rest of the top 10 are Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (7 percent), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (6 percent), Donald Trump (5 percent), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (4 percent), and Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (2 percent each). The poll's error margin is 2.4 percent.

Organizers of the first GOP debate in August have said they'll fit no more than 10 people on stage. Half of the people who would be included today -- Bush, Walker, Trump, Christie and Kasich -- have yet to formally launch their candidacies.

"Safe to say, the 2016 Republican presidential primary is anyone's race," Tim Malloy, the poll's assistant director, said in a statement. "With no front-runner and identical numbers for the top five contenders, it's a horserace which can only be described as a scrambled field -– at least so far."

Democrat Hillary Clinton leads all potential Republican rivals, with the closest match-ups putting her 46-42 percent against Paul and 45-41 percent against Rubio. Were she to face Bush, the split would be 47-37 percent.

"This poll reflects what many others do -- Sen. Paul's brand of opportunity conservatism is the GOP's best hope of defeating Hillary Clinton and the Washington Machine," Paul spokesman Doug Stafford said in an email.

With so much of the field undefined, however, it's too early to read much into polls -- especially national ones that don't portray the state-by-state primary contests.

May 07, 2015

WMUR poll: Jeb Bush ahead in New Hampshire

@PatriciaMazzei

Another day, another poll in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign. This one is good for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who according to the survey is ahead of the Republican pack in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary.

The WMUR Granite State poll shows Bush drawing 15 percent of likely GOP primary voters who responded to the poll, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 12 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 11 percent and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 10 percent. The survey's error margin is 3.7 percentage points, which means the crowded candidate field remains tight.

"Bush, Rubio, Walker, and Paul seem to be separating themselves slightly from the rest of the field but this is likely due to press attention rather than any real campaign work," said Andrew Smith, Director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Sixty percent of respondents hold a favorable opinion of Rubio, the best-liked candidate so far. That number is 51 percent for Paul and 50 percent for Walker. On the flip side, 34 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Bush.

May 06, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: Jeb Bush trails early in Iowa

@PatriciaMazzei

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a still-undeclared candidate, trails other Republicans in the early 2016 presidential field in Iowa, a new poll has found.

The survey by Quinnipiac University found Bush in seventh place, far behind his rivals, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker holds a 21-percent lead among GOP caucus-goers, ahead of Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (13 percent), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (12 percent), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (11 percent), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (11 percent) and Bush (5 percent).

When asked which candidate they would not vote for, 25 percent of respondents said Bush, and 20 percent said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Rubio drew the highest favorability rating, with 69 percent of respondents saying they have a favorable opinion of him, compared to 9 percent who don't.

"The first few months of the Iowa Republican caucus race show Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as the early leader," assistant pol director Peter Brown said in a statement. "U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, on the strength of an impressive candidacy roll out, has moved from the bottom of the pack into a tie for second."

With the candidate field still in flux, and Bush yet to make his candidacy official, a poll this early in the campaign means relatively little. It does underscore, however, that Iowa may not be the most natural fit for Bush. He has long been viewed as a stronger player in New Hampshire, for example, and Nevada, two early-primary states where an electorate less focused on social issues might be more receptive to Bush's brand of conservatism.

May 05, 2015

NYT/CBS poll: Republicans like Marco Rubio -- and Jeb Bush's experience

@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio continue to fare well in early national polls about the 2016 presidential race, with a new New York Times/CBS News survey showing them consistently among the most popular contenders among Republicans.

Forty-eight percent of Republican respondents said they would consider voting for Rubio, compared to 47 percent for newly announced candidate Mike Huckabee and 46 percent for Bush Seventeen percent said they would not vote for Rubio, which is lower than Huckabee's 26 percent and Bush's 23 percent. 

Fifty-one percent of Republicans called Rubio's views on issues "about right." Bush's number was very close, 49 percent. The poll's error margin is three percentage points.

More importantly for Bush, the former Florida governor, 73 percent of Republican voters in the poll said they want a candidate with experience outside Washington D.C. And when asked about candidates having the "right" kind of experience, Bush's numbers were 59-24 percent, compared to Rubio's 44-24 percent.

Our usual caveat: It's very early for polls to mean much in a race still so many months away. They merely offer a glimpse at how a candidate (or undeclared candidate, in Bush's case) is doing for now, when most people are not yet following the fledgling campaign.

May 04, 2015

WSJ/NBC poll: Jeb Bush leads 2016 GOP field, but Marco Rubio is catching up, has broader support

@PatriciaMazzei

Hey, Miami: Are you ready to have two hometown Republicans leading the pack of 2016 presidential contenders?

It might already be happening, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remains the leading GOP candidate in the poll, with 23 percent of respondents listing him as his first choice, compared to 18 percent for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. But a wider swath of voters -- 74 percent compared to Bush's 70 percent -- say they could see themselves voting for Rubio, the poll found. Its error margin is 6.19 percent.

Rubio got a big boost from his April campaign launch (Bush has yet to make his official), and the large Republican field is still very much in flux. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they could see themselves voting for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is also not a formal candidate, and the poll included seven other GOP hopefuls. All Republicans trail Democrat Hillary Clinton, with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky faring best against her.

For all those reasons, Rubio's camp has been quick to dismiss his strong showings in other polls. But the survey is still good news for him as he fund-raises across the country to keep up with Bush, who has a head start and established political-donor network.

April 23, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: Marco Rubio bumps ahead of Jeb Bush, competitive with Hillary Clinton

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio leads the GOP field in a new national poll and runs best against Hillary Clinton, a big shot for his campaign that's just over a week into effect.

Rubio takes 15 percent of the GOP primary vote, according to the Quinnipiac poll, with Jeb Bush earning 13 percent and Scott Walker 11 percent. No other candidate tops 9 percent and 14 percent remain undecided.

Clinton naturally blows away any Democratic competition and other Republicans, except 43-year-old Rubio. In a general election matchup, Clinton gets 45 percent of American voters to 43 percent for Rubio. That's better than other Republicans, including Bush whom Clinton leads 46-39.

“The youngest member of the GOP presidential posse moves to the front of the pack to challenge Hillary Clinton whose position in her own party appears rock solid,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenalin into a campaign. Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton.”

Bush tops the “no way” list as 17 percent of Republican voters say they would definitely not support him.Chris Christie is next with 16 percent, with 10 percent for Rand Paul.

From April 16 – 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,353 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones. The survey includes 567 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points and 569 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points.

After the news got out, Rubio's campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, remarked on Twitter that polls this early "don't matter." That's true but it's also likely Rubio's campaign knows what comes with the additional attention: more media scrutiny and more overt shots from Republicans.

At the least, the poll would seemingly validate feeling among Rubio's camp that he had a strong rollout and that Clinton's campaign announcement a day before Rubio's did not eat into his national news attention.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 06, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: Jeff Atwater leads early Florida Senate field, though few voters know potential candidates

@PatriciaMazzei

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater tops the early field of possible 2016 U.S. Senate candidates in Florida, according to a new poll, though the four potential contenders in the survey are still largely unknown to voters. A tough race is expected if Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announces next week that he's running for president.

The Republican Atwater bests Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, the only declared candidate in the race so far, by 38-34 percent, the new Quinnipiac University poll found. Atwater also leads Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando 42-32 percent.

Murphy holds a 35-31 percent lead over Republican Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Lopez-Cantera's advantage over Grayson, 33-32 percent, is essentially a tie, given the poll's 3 percent error margin.

A key figure: all of them have a high proportion of voters -- 58 percent or more -- who said they don't know enough about the politicians to form an opinion. Quinnipiac did not survey primary-election match-ups.

"If U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio runs for president, the fight for his Senate seat will be a test of relatively unknown candidates on both sides of the aisle," Peter A. Brown, the poll's assistant director, said in a statement. "Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has a small edge in exposure to the voters, but we have a long way to go. Whoever wins will be the candidate who does the best job introducing themselves to the voters."

The poll also found that voters continue to disapprove of Republican Gov. Rick Scott's job performance by 49-42 percent. Rubio has a higher approval rating (54-35 percent) than his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Bill Nelson (45-30 percent).

Quinnipiac also found 84 percent of respondents favor legalizing medical marijuana, compared to 14 percent who oppose it. A constitutional amendment to that effect failed despite garnering nearly 58 percent support because it failed to meet the state's 60-percent amendment threshold. A new amendment is in the works for the 2016 ballot, with a different wording than what the pollsters used in their survey, making an apples-to-apples comparison impossible.

According to the poll, outright marijuana legalization -- not just for medical uses -- is supported 55-42 percent.

April 02, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: Jeb Bush's lead over other likely GOP candidates shrinks in Florida

@PatriciaMazzei

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is still the favorite 2016 presidential candidate among Florida Republicans, a new poll says, but he has lost some ground since February.

Bush tops the GOP field at 24 percent, down from 32 percent on Feb. 4, the public-opinion survey by Quinnipiac University found. Rounding out the top three are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 15 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 12 percent.

Bush would benefit from Walker stays out of the race, the poll indicates, while Rubio would be the beneficiary if Bush doesn't run.

In two other swing states -- Ohio and Pennsylvania -- Bush's popularity is in the single digits. In Ohio, he's tied for third at 8 percent, compared to 10 percent in February. In Pennsylvania, Bush is tied for second place at 9 percent, down from Bush's 12 percent last month.

Bush "can't be happy with his numbers today," Peter A. Brown, the poll's assistant director, said in a statement. "Bush has a lead over the field in his home state of Florida, but it's not anywhere near insurmountable."

By contrast, on the Democratic side, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is far and away the favorite in Florida. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for her in a primary, followed by Vice President Joe Biden at 11 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 7 percent. Warren has said she's not running, and Biden isn't expected to challenge Clinton.

Only one candidate on either side of the political aisle -- Cruz -- has officially announced he's running, so it's early in the race for polls to mean much. The key constituency for now is deep-pocketed donors who can help a contender amass enough money to launch a serious campaign. Much of the Republican establishment in that demographic has gravitated toward Bush; results from Quinnipiac released earlier this week suggest he is the strongest general-election candidate against Clinton in Florida.

April 01, 2015

Public Policy Polling survey: Republican voters think well of Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is well-positioned to do well as a potential Republican presidential contender if another candidate stumbles because GOP voters view him so favorably, according to a new poll.

The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found that Rubio had the highest approval rating -- 55-22 percent -- of the nine politicians featured in its survey. In contrast, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's rating was 39-37 percent. But Rubio is not most voters' first choice, which is why the pollsters said he could benefit if a competitor has a setback.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who became the first Republican to formally declare his candidacy last week, has seen a surge in popularity in the past month, according to the poll results. But the leading hopeful in the crowded Republican field remains Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, with 20 percent support, which is down from last month's 25 percent. Bush is in second place at 17 percent; Rubio's tied for sixth at 6 percent. The polls error margin is 4.7 percentage points.