Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Sen. Marco Rubio are the clear 2016 front-runners for president in the Sunshine State, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling.The hypothetical poll results, which were shared exclusively with Business Insider, find that Bush earns the early support of 28% of the 624 Florida Republicans surveyed, while Rubio gets 22%. The poll was taken before 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost Florida — and the election — on Tuesday.
Speculation bubbled up around both Bush and Rubio as possible candidates — and then vice presidential candidates — in 2012. Bush lamented back in June that he felt he had perhaps missed his chance to become president, but his name is already popping up on the short list again.
Both Bush and Rubio also are the most likeable candidates — Rubio is viewed favourably by 88% of Florida Republicans, while Bush has an 85% favourable rating.
Men and women are split on who their preferred nominee would be. Men break for Bush — he would lead Rubio 33-20. Women, meanwhile, are split evenly between Bush and Rubio. Rubio is favourable with 89% of Florida Republican women.
Also notable in the poll are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s standing, which appears to have suffered a bit in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and his embrace of President Barack Obama. Christie is viewed favourably by only 59% of Florida Republicans. There’s not a lot of basis for comparison, but in PPP’s early surveying of 2016 in New Hampshire, he was viewed favourably by 74% of Republicans there.
All of the candidates, though, are well-known even at this early stage to Florida Republicans. Former candidate Rick Santorum, in fact, inspires the most unsure opinions on favorability.
Despite his apparent favorability slip, Christie comes in fourth in Republicans’ presidential picks — behind Bush, Rubio and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Paul Ryan and Condoleezza Rice follow, each with 8% of the vote. Sarah Palin earns 5%, and Rand Paul gets 3%.
A couple of Republicans that didn’t make the list but could plausibly be 2016 candidates — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Here’s the full poll: