A special June survey conducted among Florida Republican likely voters by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute showed strong preference for returning former GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio to the U.S. Senate to continue representing the Sunshine State, over one of the several other, lesser-known GOP candidates who have been running.
When Rubio entered the race for the GOP nomination for president, he said he would not seek re-election to his seat in the Senate. But now the South Florida Republican appears to be weighing a Senate run, and poll results from Saint Leo show voters undeniably favor him.
Saint Leo released these selected findings Friday from a more wide-ranging poll—still to be released starting next week—when one of the other GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate announced he was dropping out of the race at midday Friday. That candidate, U.S. Representative David Jolly of Florida’s St. Petersburg area, was selected by only 4 percent of the likely GOP voters as their choice among the slate of current candidates plus Rubio. By contrast, Rubio was selected by 52 percent.
And even when GOP poll respondents were asked their favorite among declared candidates—without Rubio—the other candidates fared poorly. More than half the respondents didn’t know whom they would select in the primary, which will be held August 30.
“These results clearly show that Marco Rubio starts in a strong position in his expected bid to win the GOP nomination,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University 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.”
Specifically, here is how GOP respondents answered two relevant questions in the online poll, conducted from June 10 through June 16.
Please think for a moment about the candidates running for the Republican nomination to run for U.S. Senate from Florida in 2016. If the Republican primary for U.S. Senate was held today, which of the following would you support for the Republican nomination?
|Declared Republican Candidates for U.S. Senate from Florida||All Florida GOP respondents – percent||Florida GOP likely voters – percent|
|Dr. Ilya Katz||1.7%||1.7%|
|Unsure / Don’t Know||57%||56.6%|
Question: Please think for a moment about the same candidates along with Marco Rubio running or potentially running for the Republican nomination to run for U.S. Senate from Florida in 2016. If the Republican primary for U.S. Senate was held today, which of the following would you support for the Republican nomination?
|Declared Republican Candidates and Marco Rubio||All Florida GOP respondents – percent||Florida GOP likely voters – percent|
|Dr. Ilya Katz||0.6%||0.6%|
|Unsure / Don’t Know||27.0%||27.2%|
Saint Leo’s Orlando continued: “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. With Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Ron DeSantis likely stepping aside too, Senator Rubio is in a good position to consolidate support with only Carlos Beruff staying in the race. Now it seems likely that the election will pit an incumbent Rubio against a Democratic challenger.”
On the Democratic side, Orlando said the survey shows the race is “wide open.” The survey asked Democrats which candidate they would support if the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate was held today. Results showed:
|Declared Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate from Florida||All Florida Democratic respondents – percent||Florida Democratic likely voters – percent|
|Unsure / Don’t Know||61.4%||61.1%|
In assessing the results, Orlando commented: “Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy are still unknown quantities to most Florida Democrats. 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.”
Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text)
Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications email@example.com or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text)
More About Our Research
METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The Florida poll overall of 500 adults has a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error, though results from likely voters from either political part have a plus or minus 7 percent margin of error, given the smaller sampling size.
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The 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 advantage 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.
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida 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.