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Marco Rubio Soars Nationally Even as VP Prospects Dim

June 20, 2012 - 6:00pm

With his name bandied about as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney and a new autobiography just released, a new poll shows that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is flying high at the national level -- even as some pundits lower his chances of ending up as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

A national poll of likely voters unveiled on Thursday finds thatRubio is growing increasingly popular at the national level as he enjoys the spotlight from the new book and the buzz his name is generating as a possible running mate for Romney.

A poll from Rasmussen Reports finds that 42 percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of the freshman senator from the Sunshine State while 31 percent see him in an unfavorable light. Rasmussen took a similar poll in April which showed that 35 percent saw Rubio as favorable and 28 percent as unfavorable.

A third of those surveyed in the new poll have strong opinions of Rubio, with 22 percent of the total seeing him as very favorable and 11 percent as very unfavorable.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters was taken from June 19-20 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

Rubio also is in solid shape at the state level, according to another poll. A poll of registered Florida voters from Quinnipiac University released this week shows 51 percent of those surveyed approve of Rubio while 31 percent disapprove of him. None of the other politicians included in the poll -- Barack Obama, Romney, Bill Nelson, Rick Scott -- had a majority of Florida voters in their corner.

Still, while Rubio is soaring high in the polls, pundits belive his prospects of winding up as Romneys running mate are on the decline. Earlier in the week, the Romney team was faced with reports that Rubio had yet to be vetted for consideration to be on the Republican ticket.

National pundit Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia offered his Crystal Ball analysis on Thursday and weighed in on Romneys potential running mates. Sabato has reduced his pool of vice presidential prospects from 23 to 11 and he is putting two Floridians on the list. Rubio stands at the bottom of the first tier of contenders and former Gov. Jeb Bush in the second tier, ranking 10th out of the 11 names included on the list.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, long thought a leader of the vice presidential race, is much lower on this list than our first list (we rated him second previously, and now hes barely in our top tier), Sabato wrote. Beyond the issue about whether Romney wants him on the ticket -- theres a dispute about whether the Romney camp is even vetting him -- are a couple of realities: the first is that Rubio is a new figure on the national stage who would invite intense scrutiny; and the second is that Romney should be able to carry Florida, a tossup state that nonetheless has a slight Republican lean, without Rubio in a close national election.

Rob Portman tops Sabatos list followed by Tim Pawlenty, John Thune, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan and finally Rubio.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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