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Quinnipiac poll: Donald Trump up, Hillary Clinton down in Florida

@PatriciaMazzei

Donald Trump has climbed to the top of the 2016 Republican presidential field in Florida, according to a new poll that shows him ahead of hometown favorites Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

Perhaps even more noteworthy: Democrat Hillary Clinton's popularity has taken a tumble, the poll shows, and she now trails Bush and Rubio and is essentially tied with Trump in potential general-election match-ups.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows Trump leading the GOP field in Florida with 21 percent, followed by Bush (17 percent) and Rubio and Ben Carson (both at 11 percent). Carson is a neurosurgeon who retired to West Palm Beach. No other candidate tops 7 percent support, and 8 percent are undecided.

Trump received merely 3 percent support in the last Quinnipiac survey of Florida in June, a sign of his summer surge.

At the time, Clinton led the Democratic field with 64 percent support. Now she's at 48 percent, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 15 percent, Vice President Joe Biden (who for now is not a candidate) at 11 percent and 17 percent undecided.

In head-to-head match-ups, Rubio leads Clinton 51-39 percent, Bush leads her 49-38 percent, and Trump leads her 43-41 percent, a statistical tie. The poll has an error margin of 3 percentage points.

If Trump were to run as a third-party candidate, then the poll shows Clinton at 37 percent, Bush at 36 percent and Trump at 19 percent in Florida.

"Hillary Clinton's poll numbers are like a leaky faucet: drip, drip, drip, drip. She is now getting less than half the vote in all three states' Democratic primaries,", said Peter A. Brown, the poll's assistant director, who also surveyed voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania. "Gov. Jeb Bush got middling debate grades and slips in the GOP horse race. Yet he does very well when voters rate the leading Republican candidates on personal characteristics."

Rubio continues to show high favorability ratings, the measure his campaign considers most important this early in the presidential race because it shows he has potential to grow as the campaign chugs along and more voters start paying attention.

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