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Quinnipiac poll: Marco Rubio moves up nationally, behind Donald Trump

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio has climbed to second place nationally, behind only Donald Trump, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The survey shows Trump's enduring lead in the 2016 Republican presidential field. He garnered 27 percent support, followed by Rubio (17 percent), Ben Carson and Ted Cruz (16 percent each). No other candidate made it to the double digits; the next most-popular contender was Jeb Bush with 5 percent support.

With an error margin of 3.8 percentage point, the results show Rubio statistically tied with Carson and Cruz. But the Florida senator is still 3 percentage points higher than he was in the last Quinnipiac poll a month ago. It's also a drop for Carson, who last month was in a statistical tie with Trump. 

"It doesn't seem to matter what he says or who he offends, whether the facts are contested or the 'political correctness' is challenged, Donald Trump seems to be wearing Kevlar," Tim Malloy, the poll's assistant director, said in a statement. "Dr. Ben Carson, moving to center stage just one month ago, now needs some CPR. The Doctor sinks. The Donald soars. The GOP, 11 months from the election, has to be thinking, 'This could be the guy.'"

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton grew her lead over Bernie Sanders and is now ahead of him 60-30 percent, the poll shows, compared to 53-35 percent in November. Martin O'Malley came in at 2 percent.

In general-election match-ups, Clinton and Sanders beat all the top Republicans.

"Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have to be hoping Trump is the GOP's guy," Malloy said.

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