Marco Rubio Rises To The Top Of The GOP Field In New Poll
Less than two weeks after entering the race, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is at the top of the GOP field in a new poll.
A new national poll puts Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who just entered the Presidential race last week, at the top of a field that remains tight, showing that the Florida Senator has had the most successful campaign launch so far of any of the candidates to enter the race:
Sen. Marco Rubio leads all Republican presidential hopefuls in a new poll released Thursday morning, capturing some momentum in the weeks after he became the third major Republican to announce his presidential campaign.
The Florida senator garnered support from 15% of the registered Republicans polled by Quinnipiac University, giving him a slight edge over his mentor Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who won 13% of the vote in the poll.
Rubio also performed the best of all the potential Republican candidates in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, trailing her by only two percentage points.
The poll — surveying national Republicans and coming nine months before the first votes will be cast in the Iowa caucuses — serves as a signal that Rubio has the potential to make a run at the nomination.
“This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenaline into a campaign,” said Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the poll, in a statement. “Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton.”
Most early opinion polls have shown Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the Republican field. Walker earns bronze in the new Quinnipiac poll, with 11% of respondents saying they would vote for him. A significant number of Republican primary voters — 14% — said they didn’t know who they planned to support.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz earned 9% of the vote in the poll, and his Senate colleague from Kentucky, Rand Paul, won 8%. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tied with 7% support — the rest of the field earned 3% or less. The margin of error for Republicans in the survey is 4.1 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac findings track closely with a CNN/ORC poll issued this week, though Bush beats Rubio by 5 percentage points in that survey.
All GOP candidates in the Quinnipiac poll trail Clinton, but the difference between Rubio and the former secretary of state is the smallest in all one-on-one battles: two percentage points. Paul lost to Clinton in a hypothetical match-up by four points; Christie, Walker and Huckabee by 5; and Cruz and Bush by 7.
In the CNN/ORC poll, the differences between Clinton and her rivals are much wider, with Rubio faring best by keeping the distance to 14 percentage points. CNN/ORC polled all adults, rather than registered voters, and asked the head-to-head questions with different wordings than did Quinnipiac, which could factor into the varied findings
In the previous Quinnipiac poll, conducted before any of the candidates that have announced recently entered the race, Rubio was polling at 5%, so his jump to the top of the field, albeit still within the margin of error, is significant news for him since it shows him vaulting into what is arguably the top tier of the Republican field at the moment almost immediately. Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul also improved their numbers from the last Quinnipiac poll, but in their cases the increases were much smaller than Rubio’s and didn’t really do much of anything to shift their position among the swath of candidates and potential candidates for the Republican nomination. Rubio’s rise here was also mirrored, to a smaller extent, by the the CNN/ORC poll that I made note of earlier this week, although, as noted, in that case the poll still showed Bush and Walker at the top of the field with Rubio and Paul behind them at 11% each. Neither of these polls have had much of an impact on the RealClearPolitics average, which still largely reflects the results of polling done before any candidates had entered the race, but that is likely to change as more polls are released over the coming weeks and months.
Philip Bump argues that Rubio’s polling surge can be attributed to only one thing, a successful campaign launch and the fact that he benefits to some extent from being the person who entered the race most recently at the time the poll was conducted. On some level, I suppose, that last part is largely correct in that Rubio’s name will have been in the news at the time the poll was taken and thus fresh in the minds of respondents. At the same time, though, it’s worth noting that we didn’t see similar quick jumps in the polls for either Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, although their numbers have increased since they got in the race to some extent. A ten point swing is not something that should be dismissed out of hand, even in polls taken this far out, and I’d suggest that Rubio’s jump can at least be partly attributable to the fact that he seems to have gotten a better reception to his announcement than either Cruz or Paul did. An additional factor could be the fact that Rubio is someone that prospective Republican voters have been very familiar with for five year now and, while his star did dim significantly after the Senate immigration battle, it’s always been possible that there remained a reservoir of good will among voters that would work to his benefit once he entered the race.
The question, of course, is whether this momentum will continue and whether Rubio will be able to sustain his position as a top tier candidate for the nomination. With many more candidates still yet to enter the race, including not just Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, but other potentially competitive candidates like Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, and Rick Perry, that’s far from a certainty. If he can do that, though, then he’ll be among the handful of candidates likely to get the most press attention later this year and heading into the early caucuses and primaries in February, and that’s at least part of what he’ll need to get people to the polls to vote for him. Rubio’s path isn’t an easy one, but of the people who have entered the race so far he seems to be among the most likely to be able to pull off a win, especially if Jeb Bush stumbles or finds it so hard to gain support among the party base that his candidacy doesn’t prove to be viable. The same cannot be said for candidates like Cruz, Paul, and, most especially, the rest of the clown car.