BOSTON – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has closed to within one point of favorite son former Gov. John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush in Bush’s home state of Florida, according to a new poll of GOP voters in the Sunshine State.
Bush leads Walker, 23-22, in a poll this week of 508 Florida Republicans by Gravis Insights, a Florida-based non-partisan research firm. The poll was conducted for the Howie Carr radio show.
In third place was another favorite son, FL Sen. Marco Rubio, with 11 percent. Former AR Gov. Mike Huckabee had 10 percent, ahead of retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson with 8 percent, NJ Gov. Chris Christie with 6 percent and KY Sen. Rand Paul with 5 percent.
Two candidates from Texas – Sen. Ted Cruz and former Gov. Rick Perry – finished even further behind, with 2 and 1 percent of the vote, respectively.
Eleven percent of the Republican respondents said they were unsure whom they would vote for.
Despite his early fundraising prowess, Bush’s poll numbers have been generally anemic. He finished fifth at last weekend’s CPAC convention in suburban Washington. His stands on amnesty for illegal aliens and Common Core education standards are anathema to the Republican base.
On the Democratic side, Gravis found former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton way ahead of MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 52-14. Vice president Joe Biden polled in single digits, at 9 percent, and other potential candidates – former VA Sen. Jim Webb, VA Sen. Mark Warner and former MD Gov. Martin O’Malley – all had 2 percent.
Rubio is popular in his home state, but Bush and Walker appear to be overshadowing him. Even among Rubio’s fellow Hispanics, with 11 percent he trails both Bush (24 percent) and Walker (23).
Given a choice of only Bush and Rubio, Florida Republicans narrowly preferred Bush, 40-36 percent.
Doug Kaplan, managing director of Gravis, said, “We are seeing the early stages of a two-man race between Bush and Walker.”
Under Florida law, Rubio cannot run for both president and for reelection to the Senate in 2016.
“But,” said Kaplan, “he does not have to make that decision until May 2016, and by then, the primary season will be winding down anyway.”
On the Democratic side, Kaplan said he was surprised by Biden’s weaknesses, especially among his fellow Roman Catholics.
Among Catholics, Biden only polled 12 percent. However, he ran away with the small Muslim sample, gaining 58 percent of their votes.
The poll has a margin of error of ± 4% for Republicans and 5% for Democrats, according to Gravis.
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