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.