Florida Senator Marco Rubio is the early leader among Republicans, according to a new poll done by the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling. PPP had one of the most accurate polling records of 2012, so it’s hard to argue that they wouldn’t have a good read on the electorate. Still, with Rubio sitting at 18%, there’s a lot of room in the potential field:
PPP’s newest national poll finds Marco Rubio as the early choice of Republicans for 2016. 18% would like him to be their nominee to 14% for Chris Christie, 12% for Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, 11% for Mike Huckabee, 8% for Condoleezza Rice, 7% each for Sarah Palin and Rand Paul, and 4% for Rick Santorum.
Rubio’s ahead because of his strength with the most conservative wing of the party. Among ‘very conservative’ voters he’s at 23% to 17% for Paul Ryan and 13% for Mike Huckabee. He also had the advantage with folks describing themselves as ‘somewhat conservative’ at 22% to 14% for Chris Christie and 13% for Jeb Bush. Christie has a big lead with moderates at 35% to 20% for Bush and 11% for Huckabee with Rubio all the way back at 5%. But there just aren’t that many moderates left in the Republican Party.
In addition, PPP polled Democrats and the electorate-at-large. Democrats overwhelmingly want Hillary Clinton to run for President, and she captures a vast majority of their support. Vice President and national joke Joe Biden comes in second to Clinton. In addition, very few members of the potential Democrat field have the high name recognition many Republicans have. When it comes to favorability among the entire electorate, Chris Christie comes out on top:
Christie finds himself at the top largely because of his appeal to Democrats, 42% of whom rate him favorably to 25% with a negative opinion. The question of course is whether he can appeal enough to voters on the right wing of his party to actually win the nomination. Rice is the most popular of the potential candidates with independent voters, 55% of whom see her favorably to 26% with a negative opinion.
Condoleezza Rice does incredibly well with independents, and PPP postulates she’s the one candidate who may be able to pull off an independent bid. I don’t see that decision coming from the former Secretary of State, although anything is possible. I imagine she would be a major backer of Jeb Bush, were he to enter the field. 2016 is a long ways away, but Clinton and Rubio are the frontrunners.