Rubio Surges Among Florida Republicans, Nearly even with Bush in the Sunshine State

Do Florida Republicans have a new favorite son? According to a new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, Senator Marco Rubio has pulled nearly even with former Governor Jeb Bush as the top choice of Florida Republicans for president of the United States.

By several measures, support for Rubio has surged since he officially declared his presidential candidacy earlier this spring, while Bush’s support has plateaued. Presented with a long list of candidates, Bush remains the top choice of Florida Republicans:

We know it’s early, but thinking about the presidential election in 2016 … here is a list of potential candidates who may run for the Republican nomination. If the Republican primary for president were held today, which one of the following would you support for the Republican nomination?

March

 

June

                      Candidate

31 %

 

 30 %

     Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

 16 %

 

 24 %

     U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida

 10 %

 

7 %

     Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

 9 %

 

 7 %

     Dr. Ben Carson

 7 %

 

 7 %

     U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky

 4 %

 

 6 %

     Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

 

However, Rubio’s support rose by eight points since a March survey by Saint Leo University, while Bush’s support stayed flat. Rubio also saw an eight-point increase in the number of voters naming him as their second choice. Combining the first and second place votes, Rubio has overtaken Bush. Rubio combines for 53 percent first- and second-choice votes, whereas Bush receives 42 percent.

And who would be your second choice?

March

 

  June

                      Candidate

 21 %

 

29 %

     U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida

13 %

 

12 %

     Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

 7 %

 

 8 %

     Dr. Ben Carson

 6 %

 

 7 %

     Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

5 %

 

7 %

     New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

 5 %

 

 6 %

     U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas

 5 %

 

 6 %

     Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee 

 

When given a choice of only Bush and Rubio, Rubio leads Bush among Florida Republicans, 48 to 40 percent:

Let’s say both Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush run for president in 2016. Which candidate would you support?

Select crosstabs:

 

 

 

 

  1.  
  1.  
  1.  

34 %

 

 Marco Rubio

 

      48 

      35

     21  

32 %

 

 Jeb Bush

 

       40

      30

      26

28 %

 

 Neither

 

       6

      27

      49

6 %

 

 Don’t know / not sure

 

       6

       8

       4

 

In another sign of Rubio’s rise, the percentage of Republicans who think he will end up as the party’s nominee has tripled since his official announcement:

 

Regardless of whom you personally support, which candidate do you think is most likely to win the Republican nomination for president in 2016?

March

 

June

                         Candidate

38 %

 

34 %

 Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

 9 %

 

 27 %

 U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida

 

Significant Surge by Senator Rubio

The survey showed that Bush and Rubio are popular with Florida Republicans. If Rubio isn’t a voter’s first choice, he is likely their second or third choice. “The surge for Senator Rubio is significant and is easily the most interesting finding in our recent politics poll,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. “Bush is still holding off Rubio in Florida, but the only factor keeping Rubio from the lead is the large number of conservative candidates who have siphoned his support,” commented Orlando. “That is evidenced by how many respondents like Rubio as their second choice.”

By a wide margin, Florida Republicans support both candidacies: 81% approve of Rubio running, and 76% approve of Bush’s candidacy.

Do you approve or disapprove of Senator Marco Rubio running for president of the United States?

 

 

 

R

I

D

24 %

Strongly approve

 

43

20

10

 30 %

Somewhat approve

 

38

39

19

17 %

Somewhat disapprove

 

11

13

24

21 %

Strongly disapprove

 

3

20

39

8 %

Don’t know / unsure

 

6

8

9

 

 

N=

146

80

166

Do you approve or disapprove of former Governor Jeb Bush running for president of the United States?

 

 

 

R

I

D

27 %

Strongly approve

 

45

22

16

 26 %

Somewhat approve

 

31

27

21

14 %

Somewhat disapprove

 

10

18

16

27 %

Strongly disapprove

 

13

28

39

6 %

Don’t know / unsure

 

1

6

9

 

 

N=

146

80

166

 

Appealing to Moderates and Shoring up Conservatives

“The big surprise is that more people would prefer Rubio to Bush if they have the choice, and the margin increases when you examine only Republicans. Bush has made moderate Republicans his base in Florida, while Rubio is shoring up support among conservatives,” said Saint Leo’s Orlando.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Florida and national politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

 

About the Saint Leo University Polling Institute/Methodology

This Saint Leo University poll of 535 Florida adults was conducted between May 25 and May 31, 2015. The margin of error on political questions (of likely voters only) is approximately 4.5 percent +/- with a 95 percent confidence level. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. Sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantages of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive – usually $1 dollar deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account – for their participation.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is a regionally accredited, liberal-arts-based institution known for an inclusive Catholic heritage, enduring values, and capacity for innovation. The school was chartered in 1889 by Catholic Benedictine monks in rural Pasco County, FL, making Saint Leo the first Catholic college in the state. Saint Leo provides access to education to people of all faiths, emphasizing the Benedictine philosophy of balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. 

The university welcomes learners from all generations and backgrounds, from civilian occupations and the armed forces, and from across the country and more than 60 nations around the world. Saint Leo’s 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students may elect to study at the beautiful University Campus in Florida, at more than 40 teaching locations in seven states, or online from other locations. The university’s degree programs range from the associate to the doctorate. Throughout these rich offerings, Saint Leo develops principled leaders for a challenging world.

Saint Leo University boasts nearly 80,000 alumni in all 50 states, Washington, DC, five U.S. territories, and 72 countries. 

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