U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a Global Town Townterview at the Newseum in Washington January 29, 2013. (Photo : Reuters)
Hillary Clinton beats out both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush among Florida voters in a new Quinnipiac University poll pitting the former first lady and Secretary of State against the two local favorites.
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Bush, the older brother of former president George W. Bush and former governor of Florida, lost handily to Clinton when Florida voters were asked to choose between the two in a hypothetical presidential election. Clinton won that contest, 51 percent to 40 percent.
She also bested Rubio a Republican senator currently representing Florida, 52 percent to 41 percent.
Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of Clinton, compared to just 33 percent who said they have an unfavorable view. Opinions skew along party lines, with 93 percent of Democrats viewing her favorably, while only 26 percent of Republicans do. But a full 57 percent of independents said they have a favorable view of Clinton, a swing group that could be difficult for Republicans to win back.
The results of the poll square with recent findings that show Clinton is at the height of her political popularity and the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
If her popularity holds in Florida, it will be almost impossible for Republicans to field a candidate that can beat her in the next presidential election. Due to Electoral College math, Republicans can't win the White House without winning Florida. And if two popular hometown Republicans fare this poorly against her, the GOP will be hard-pressed to find someone with even more appeal.
Of course, once the Republicans actually nominate a candidate, the party faithful will fall in line, but the Quinnipiac poll reveals lackluster support for the Republicans among independents, minorities and women.
Clinton's support is buoyed by a 20 point gender gap when pitted against Bush and an 18 point gap when pitted against Rubio.
In the 2012 presidential race, Obama beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney by less than 1 percentage point across the state, so the results of the Quinnipiac poll illustrate what is, in comparison, a massive lead for Clinton, even at the early stage of the process.