Favorite Sons Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio Get Encouragement from GOP

Clinton Favorability Among Democrats hits 91 percent

Florida Governor’s Contest: Crist Leads Scott, 46-34

The two most popular politicians among Florida voters are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a new poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

Clinton, a Democrat, is viewed favorably by 59 percent of Florida likely voters and unfavorably by 37 percent, for a net favorability rating of +22. Christie, a Republican, has a favorability rating of 55/29, for a net favorability rating of +26. This compares to Vice President Joe Biden’s favorability rating of 50/44 (+6) and that of former Republican vice presidential nominee and current U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (39/40 (-1).

Should Clinton run for president, she would receive a warm embrace from Florida Democrats. Clinton’s favorability rating among Democrats stands at 91 percent, with just 6 percent taking an unfavorable view of her. Nine in 10 Democrats (89 percent) said they would consider supporting her, if she ran for president. Comparatively fewer said the same about Biden (34 percent). New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (23 percent), U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (19 percent), and U.S. Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey (11 percent) also registered double-digit support numbers.

Christie may top the GOP field among a general audience, but he has competition for the affections of Republican primary voters. Slightly more likely-voter Republicans say they could support native sons Jeb Bush (44 percent), the former governor, and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (42 percent), if they were to run than Christie (38 percent). U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (30 percent), Paul Ryan (28 percent), and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas (24 percent) also have large numbers of voters who say they could support them. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania all have double digit followings as well.

Paul Ryan’s favorability rating (72 percent) tops Christie’s (68 percent) among Republicans. Rand Paul’s is at 55 percent, and Ted Cruz’s is at 53 percent.

“While Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite among Floridian Democrats, the picture for Republicans is much less clear,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. “This poll contains good news for Chris Christie, whose support among Republicans in the Sunshine state is almost as high as native sons Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and higher than any other national Republicans, including Paul Ryan.”

In the Florida governor’s race, former Gov. Charlie Crist holds a 46-34 percent lead over incumbent Gov. Rick Scott. Scott’s numbers are weighed down in part by some cracks in his own base. While 68 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Scott, just 59 percent of Republicans say they would re-elect him. A significant percentage of Republicans hold an unfavorable view of Scott (24 percent) and 17 percent say they plan to vote for Republican-turned-Democrat Crist.

“Crist has strong support among Democrats,” Mr. Orlando noted. “This is remarkable because Democrats in Florida are giving him a chance, despite his past association with the Republican Party. It will be interesting if this party-switching honeymoon effect will last over the course of the gubernatorial primary.”

The survey put Florida’s U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s approval rating at 48/33 (+15) and his re-elect rating at 43 percent. Senator Marco Rubio’s approval ratio is 45/41 (+4) with a 40 percent re-elect rating.

Floridians may be divided on their political preferences for president and governor but they all agree they don’t like Congress. Congress’s approval rating is just 11 percent, with 83 percent disapproving of the job Congress is doing. Remarkably, in polling 310 Floridians 40 and older, the survey failed to find a single one who said they “strongly approve” of Congress.

“Congressional approval ratings are almost always at or below presidential approval ratings,” noted Mr. Orlando. “Voters tend to approve the job that their own member of Congress is doing, while blaming all of the maladies of the institution on the other 434 House representatives that they don’t have a hand in electing.”

To view poll results click here.