Adam Smith’s Insider Poll puts Jeb over Marco as better GOP prez candidate

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As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie makes the GOP fundraising rounds in Florida, trading the heat of the George Washington Bridge scandal for balmy (in comparison) Sunshine State weather, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are eyeing his every move. Such is the current three-way dynamic between the pool of prospective 2016 Republican White House hopefuls.

Since two out of the three players in this political sideshow are Floridians, Adam Smith feels it is a opportune time to check in with a new Florida Insider Poll, where 124 of the state’s most connected and smartest “political intelligentsia” weigh in on the Christie/Rubio/Bush rubric:

Nearly 90 percent of those polled — politicos, consultants, lobbyists and fundraisers, those who know both Bush and Rubio the best  –  believe Bush is the stronger presidential candidate over Rubio. It was a slight uptick from two years ago, where 81 percent said Bush would be better.

“Jeb Bush is sure to have more support from Republican leadership in Washington, D.C. than Rubio, who’s struggling to repair the damage to his brand brought on by his early support of immigration reform,” one GOP’er told Smith.

Chances are slim that both Floridians will run, and no guarantee that either will run, but the consensus is Bush would be more likely to take a shot at the White House in 2016. More than half — 52 percent — expect Bush to campaign, while only 44 percent believe Rubio will jump in.

One of the respondents said Chris Christie’s recent troubles have Republicans increasingly murmuring Bush’s name, and “New Jersey’s loss may be Florida’s gain.”

Others see the situation “lining up nicely” for a Bush run, while the former governor has a luxury of waiting, instead of announcing too early.

Almost everyone, 97 percent, think Rubio will seek a second term as U.S. Senator.

As for Florida’s Congressional District 13 race to replace the former Rep. C.W. Bill Young, a majority (61 percent) say Democrat Alex Sink will triumph over Republican David Jolly. Ninety percent of Democrats say Sink will win while two-thirds of Republicans believe Jolly will win.

The biggest hurdle for Sink is Obamacare, one Republican said. Special elections are mostly about turning out each party’s base, and the Republican vilification of the Affordable Care Act is the biggest issue motivating the GOP.

The 124 politicos in Smith’s Florida Insider Poll are 59 Republicans, 55 Democrats and 10 with no party affiliation or a third party. Included in the survey was SaintPetersBlog publisher Peter Schorsch.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.