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Florida 'Insiders' Poll: Bush Fares Better Than Rubio vs. Hillary

By    |   Friday, 10 April 2015 06:29 PM

Florida political insiders believe that former Gov. Jeb Bush would be a stronger candidate than Sen. Marco Rubio against Hillary Clinton in the Sunshine State, the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

The newspaper said that in its poll of more than 130 insiders, the decision "was not even a close call."

More than 78 percent of the political consultants, lobbyists, fundraisers, academics, and others polled by the newspaper said that Bush would be a stronger candidate than Rubio against Clinton, the former secretary of state and current Democratic frontrunner.

The story lists the names of the insiders polled — 75 of them Republicans, 47 Democrats, and 11 registered to neither major party.

The Times admitted that the survey was "entirely unscientific" and that "our sample [was] loaded with people who have previously worked for Gov. Bush or are currently actively supporting him."

Those caveats aside, the poll provides a snapshot of current Republican establishment attitudes about next year's presidential race in Florida.

"Most [Florida] Republican heavyweights are supporting Jeb and see Marco running against him as an act of disloyalty toward his mentor," said one Republican.

Another lamented that since he was elected to the Senate in 2010, Rubio "seems to have largely ignored his Florida base and continued campaigning nationwide, utilizing the same plan and speeches he has employed since 2009 — now with the addition [of] a foreign policy component."

This insider added that many people who had been huge fans of Rubio "feel let down as the Senate seems to have been a short layover marked by a lack of achievement on the way to another goal."

But another said that Rubio "excels" in the position of underdog, adding: "Jeb hasn't run for any office in over 10 years and the Bush fatigue is still strong. He has skeletons Rubio doesn't have."

As a Hispanic Republican with an "all-American" personal story, Rubio has a "charm and appeal … that can't be dismissed," the insider added.

Other respondents emphasized that Mrs. Clinton was a formidable candidate who should not be underestimated. More than 72 percent of the insiders said she has a strong chance to carry Florida in the general election, including 57 percent of the Republicans.

For example, the paper also quoted a Democratic insider arguing that Clinton inspired a degree of "passionate support" from her political base that Bush and Rubio both lacked.

"No matter the GOP nominee — Florida will never move out of the toss-up column in 2016. In the end, Jeb or Rubio would carry Florida over Hillary," a Republican insider warned. "Anyone else on the GOP side and Florida goes blue when all is said and done."

But there is also evidence that many Floridians might prefer a Republican candidate from outside the state like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Even in Florida, "Walker is making inroads," the same newspaper reported March 27.
It cited a new Public Policy Polling survey showing Bush leading Walker among likely Republican voters by a 25 percent to 17 percent margin, with Rubio garnering 15 percent.

Among Florida Republicans describing themselves as "very conservative," Walker led Bush 23 percent to 19 percent, the Times reports.

The Wisconsin governor "has made at least seven trips, mostly below the radar, to Southeast and Southwest Florida — a mecca for Midwestern transplants. In a state where Bush overwhelmingly controls the GOP money machine, Walker has several top Republican fundraisers, and millionaire and billionaire donors actively helping him," the Times reported.

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Florida political insiders believe that former Gov. Jeb Bush would be a stronger candidate than Sen. Marco Rubio against Hillary Clinton in the Sunshine State, the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.
florida, jeb bush, marco rubio, challenge, hillary clinton, president, 2016, republicans
Friday, 10 April 2015 06:29 PM
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