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Hillary Clinton Leads in Florida for 2016; GOP Backs Favorite Sons Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

July 23, 2014 - 6:00pm
A poll from Quinnipiac University released Thursday finds former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the easy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 ahead of her Republican rivals in Florida, the largest swing state on the electoral map. The Q-poll shows Clinton besting her possible Republican opponents, including two big names from the Sunshine State.

"Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be taking some criticism recently in the news media and among some liberal Democratic precincts, but nothing has changed among average voters in Florida where she remains queen of the political prom," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, on Thursday.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., does best against Clinton in the poll but he comes up short, losing 49 percent to 42 percent. The poll shows no other Republican keeps within single digits of Clinton. The Democrat takes a majority of voters -- 53 percent -- against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who garners 39 percent. Clinton does slightly better against U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., beating him 53 percent to 37 percent. Matched against Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., Clinton routs the Republicans, 54 percent to 33 percent. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., keeps it a little closer but Clinton still leads 51 percent to 38 percent.

"Secretary Clinton leads the Republicans against whom she is matched by double digits with the exception of former Gov. Bush who trails her by 7 points," Brown said. "Inside the Beltway they may be talking about Mrs. Clinton's potential weaknesses should she run in 2016. But at this point in Florida, the nation's largest presidential swing state, her assets overwhelm any vulnerabilities."

The poll shows almost all of the leading candidates remain above water in the Sunshine State. A majority -- 58 percent -- of Florida voters see Clinton in a favorable light but 38 percent see her as unfavorable. Bush is seen as favorable by 48 percent while 37 percent view him as unfavorable. Rubio garners 43 percent viewing him as favorable while 35 percent see him as unfavorable. Florida voters are less sure of Paul and Ryan. Paul is seen as favorable by 32 percent and unfavorable by 28 percent. A third of those surveyed -- 33 percent -- see Ryan as favorable while 30 percent view him as unfavorable. Christie is upside down in Florida by the skin of his teeth with 35 percent seeing him as favorable but 36 percent see him as unfavorable.

Turning to the primaries, Clinton has a commanding lead over her fellow Democrats. "Two-thirds of Democrats say she is their candidate for 2016 and none of the others even makes it into double digits, Brown said of Clinton.

Clinton leads the Democratic pack with 67 percent. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are tied in distant second with 8 percent each. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., garners 1 percent. Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., and former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont., take below 1 percent.

Things are not so clear cut on the Republican side but two candidates from the Sunshine State lead the field.

Sunshine Staters are on top when Florida Republicans are asked their top 2016 choice, but former Gov. Jeb Bush slips a little and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio just about caught up with him, Brown said.

Bush leads with 21 percent followed by Rubio in second with 18 percent. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes third with 10 percent followed by Paul with 8 percent. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., follows with 7 percent while Christie takes 6 percent. Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, garners 5 percent. Two candidates from Wisconsin -- Gov. Scott Walker and Ryan -- take 2 percent each while three candidates -- Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., take 1 percent each.

This marks a bit of a shift from a Quinnipiac poll released in May which had Bush out front with 27 percent, Paul in second with 14 percent and Rubio in third with 11 percent.

The poll of 1,251 registered Florida voters was taken from July 17-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent. The sample of 457 Florida Democrats was taken during the same period and had a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent. The sample of 451 Florida Republicans was taken during the same period and had a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent.

Reach Kevin Derby at

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