Even as David Jolly heads to the sidelines, a new poll shows Marco Rubio is a clear favorite for the Republican nomination if he wants a second term.
St. Leo University released a poll on Friday showing Rubio in control if he runs for another term in the Senate. Rubio has opened the door to running for another term and has until next Friday to make up his mind to run again. Prominent Republicans including Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the NRSC leadership have urged Rubio to run for a second term.
If Rubio runs, he starts off with a majority of likely Republican primary voters surveyed with 52 percent backing him. Ron DeSantis places a distant second with 5 percent while Jolly and Beruff pulled 4 percent apiece. Jolly announced on Friday he was ending his Senate bid to run for another term in the House. Carlos Lopez-Cantera garners 3 percent in the poll while Todd Wilcox takes 2 percent and dark horse Ilya Katz pulls 1 percent.
“These results clearly show that Marco Rubio starts in a strong position in his expected bid to win the GOP nomination,” said Frank Orlando who teaches political science at St. Leo University and is the director of that school’s Polling Institute. “Rubio’s name recognition is so much stronger than that of his competitors that they'd need to work extremely hard to close that gap.”
When Rubio is taken out of the mix, a majority of likely Republican primary voters--57 percent--are undecided while some of candidates log-jammed together with Lopez-Cantera claiming 9 percent and Beruff, DeSantis and Jolly getting 8 percent each. Wilcox gets 5 percent and Katz moves up to 2 percent.
“Congressman Jolly appears to be making the smart move by getting out of the Senate race, even though he'll face a difficult re-election campaign against candidate Charlie Crist in a district that is more Democratic than it was last year,” Orlando said. “With Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Ron DeSantis likely stepping aside too, Senator Rubio is in a good position to consolidate support.”
On the Democratic side, most likely primary voters--61 percent--are undecided while Patrick Murphy gets 16 percent followed by Alan Grayson with 14 percent. Lateresa Jones gets 4 percent and Pam Keith pulls 3 percent.
“Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy are still unknown quantities to most Florida Democrats,” Orlando noted. “Patrick Murphy is the establishment choice, but Alan Grayson is hoping to capitalize on the intensity of younger voters that supported the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.”
The poll of 500 Florida voters was taken from June 10-June 16 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.