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Poll: Marco Rubio leads Carlos Beruff by 64 (!) percentage points

@PatriciaMazzei

Yes, you read that right.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has a whopping, 64-percentage-point lead over Republican primary challenger Carlos Beruff, according to a new poll commissioned for Associated Industries of Florida.

Rubio trounces Beruff 71-7 percent, with 18 percent of voters undecided, the poll found. Fifty-five percent of Rubio supporters are "hard" supporters, while 16 percent are "leaning" toward voting for him.

A similar AIF survey in April found 50 percent of respondents would back Rubio, who was then not running for re-election and held a 42-point margin over his nearest competitor.

Now Rubio is formally a candidate. And Beruff is the only significant rival he's got left. (Two others on the ballot, Ernie Rivera and Dwight Mark Anthony Young, polled at 2 percent each in the latest AIF poll.) 

Voters also view Rubio far more favorably than Beruff and than presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who won't be on the August ballot. Rubio's favorable-unfavorable numbers are 71-21 percent, compared to Trump's 62-32 percent and Beruff's 11-9 percent.

Rubio's favorability rating is even higher among Hispanics: 83-7 percent, compared to Trumps's 44-46 percent and Beruff's 10-15 percent. That means Trump and Beruff are underwater by a net 2 percent and 5 percent among Hispanics, respectively.

It's the first survey conducted since Rubio declared for re-election. The survey was conducted by TelOpinion Research for Tallahassee-based AIF, a business group that has a strong track record in recent election cycles. The poll of 750 likely voters conducted June 27-28 has an error margin of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points. A June 25-27 poll conducted for News 13/Bay News 9 found Rubio with 63 percent support, followed by "undecided" at 13 percent and Beruff at 11 percent.

The latest AIF sample includes so-called "surge" voters, the voters who typically don't vote in GOP primaries but nevertheless cast ballots March 15.

"When the dust settled and we were able to analyze the final electorate, we found that voters with little to no history of voting in regular Republican primaries...made up 1.2 million of 2.3 million Republicans that voted," AIF political chief Ryan Tyson wrote in a memo to the group's members. "This turnout dwarfed the last two regular Republican primaries where 1.2 million and 1 million Republicans showed up for the regular 2012 and 2014 primaries."

The surge voters aren't necessarily new to politics, because they tend to vote in general elections. The Aug. 30 primary is a different beast; AIF asked voters if they intend to vote then.

--with Mary Ellen Klas

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