AUSTIN, Texas — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is surely smiling this morning after the first poll in Florida since he announced he is running for president showed that he had received a substantial bump in his numbers. Rubio’s surge was so substantial, in fact, that he is now one point ahead of former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), as opposed to a 12-point deficit from a poll at the beginning of the month.
The poll in question was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research from Tuesday to Thursday, after Rubio’s announcement Monday evening in Miami. Among 400 registered Republican Florida voters, Rubio won 31 percent of the votes, just past Bush’s 30 percent, as reported by Politico’s Marc Caputo.
Seventeen percent were undecided.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who got into the race officially last month, received 8 percent, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who announced a week before Rubio, received 7 percent. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) earned 2 percent, and the remainder of responses went to “other.” (Mason-Dixon did not poll the other potential candidates by name.) The poll’s margin of error was five percent.
The most recent Florida poll was conducted from March 17 to March 28 by Quinnipiac University of 1,087 Florida voters, including 428 registered Republicans. The poll overall had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent, and +/- 4.7 percent among the Republican sample. In this poll, Bush received 24 percent of the Republican vote, followed by Walker at 15 percent and Rubio at 12 percent.
Another slightly earlier Florida poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), conducted from March 19 to March 22, had similar results: Bush led with 25 percent, then Walker at 17 percent, Rubio at 15 percent, neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 12 percent, former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) at 7 percent, Cruz at 6 percent, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) at 4 percent, Paul at 4 percent, and former Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) at 3 percent. As Breitbart News reported, Bush dropped 5 percent in this poll, and Rubio gained 1 percent since a similar PPP poll last June.
“I think Rubio’s rollout was pretty good and he probably got a bump out of it,” Mason-Dixon’s pollster J. Bradford Coker told Politico. “A good rollout is like a primary win: you get about three days of good media coverage and a little lift in the polls.”
“Being in the race matters,” Republican strategist Rick Wilson, who has advised Rubio, tweeted about the poll.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) April 17, 2015
Many political observers predicted that Bush would cannibalize Rubio’s support in their home state, but if current polling trends continue, the opposite seems to be coming true. Bush’s moderate positions on education and immigration reform, as well as the not-insignificant number of voters reluctant to vote for another Bush, may be creating a ceiling for his support.
Bush might be able to create some buzz and get his own surge in the polls by officially throwing his hat in the ring. However, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith noted on their political blog, Bush is dragging his feet joining the race because not being an official candidate gives him more freedom to raise millions of dollars in direct coordination with his Super PAC.
“Admit it, Gov. Bush, you are running for president,” wrote Smith. “To continue to insist you’re barely even in the preliminary consideration phase is to start your voyage to the White House dishonestly. … Does anyone actually believe Jeb Bush has not decided he is running for president?”
Rubio still has substantial ground to cover in the early primary states, but he has repeatedly cited his longshot 2010 Florida Senate race against former Gov. Charlie Crist as a reason for optimism. As the campaign progressed, Rubio went from polling in the single digits in early 2009 to surpassing Crist as 2010 began, driving Crist out of the Republican Party. Crist would stay in the race as an independent, and Rubio would win a three-way fight, with 48.9 percent of the vote to Crist’s 29.7 percent and former Rep. Kendrick Meek’s (D-FL) 20.2 percent.
Rick Wilson tells Breitbart News that these poll results “show the immediate value of being in the game, and remind Florida voters Rubio was their champion in a political fight that was vastly more uphill than this one.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.