Latest poll of Florida: Hillary Clinton 48%, Donald Trump 39%; Marco Rubio 48%, Patrick Murphy 43%

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Hillary Clinton holds a 9 point lead over Donald Trump in a Monmouth University Poll of Florida.

Per a release: The poll also finds incumbent Marco Rubio leading either of his two main Democratic challengers to retain his U.S. Senate seat, although by varying margins. Rubio’s endorsement of Trump could pose a few problems for him in November and his late decision to run for reelection is seen primarily as a move to boost his future presidential prospects.

Among Sunshine State voters likely to participate in November’s presidential election, 48% currently support Clinton and 39% back Trump. Another 6% intend to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 1% support Green Party candidate Jill Stein, with 5% who are undecided.

Among self-identified Democrats, 92% support Clinton while 4% choose Trump and just 3% back a third party candidate. Trump has less support among his own party base, with 79% of Republicans who back their nominee, compared to 12% who support Clinton and 5% who back another candidate. Clinton leads Trump among independents by 47% to 30%, with 11% supporting Johnson and 2% backing Stein.

Clinton has an overwhelming lead among Hispanic, black and Asian voters who make up about one-third of the electorate, garnering 69% of this group’s vote to 19% for Trump. Trump leads among white voters by 51% to 37%, but there is a significant gender split. Among white men, Trump has a 64% to 24% advantage. Among white women, Clinton leads by 49% to 39%. There is no difference by educational attainment, with Trump ahead among white voters without a college degree (51% to 39%) as well as white college graduates (50% to 36%).

Clinton’s 50 point lead among non-white voters is similar to Barack Obama’s advantage over Mitt Romney with this group four years ago (49 points according to the 2012 Florida exit poll). Trump’s 14 point lead among white voters is smaller than Romney’s 24 point win with this group.  This difference is due mainly to a widening gender gap. Trump is doing somewhat better than Romney did among white men (+40 points compared to +32), but much worse among white women (-10 points compared to +17).

“The gender split among white voters in Florida is huge. Men are drawn to Trump’s message while women are not. These offsetting factors give Clinton the edge,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Florida voters hold an equally negative view of both major party nominees. Just over 1-in-3 voters (36%) have a favorable opinion of Clinton while 50% hold an unfavorable view of her.  Likewise, 33% have a favorable opinion of Trump while 54% hold an unfavorable view of him.

Clinton has a slight edge when it comes to who will better handle key issue areas. On the economy and jobs, 49% pick Clinton and 46% choose Trump.  On handling the threat of terrorism on U.S. soil, 48% pick Clinton and 45% choose Trump.

Turning to the U.S. Senate race, Marco Rubio currently leads two Democratic members of Congress who are vying to challenge him, although by varying degrees of comfort. Rubio currently holds a small 48% to 43% edge over Patrick Murphy, with 3% saying they will support another candidate. The incumbent’s lead is larger over Alan Grayson at 50% to 39%, with 5% saying they will vote for another candidate.

More Florida voters approve (47%) than disapprove (39%) of the job Rubio has done in his term as U.S. Senator. Also, 40% of Florida voters hold a favorable opinion of Rubio and 33% have an unfavorable view, with 27% expressing no opinion of him personally. Rubio’s Democratic opponents are not as well known. Murphy earns a 22% favorable and 10% unfavorable rating, with 68% having no opinion.

Grayson has a 14% favorable and 21% unfavorable rating, with 66% having no opinion.

Most voters say that Rubio’s decision to run for re-election was more to improve his chances for a future presidential run (53%) rather than a desire to serve the public (25%). He initially said that he would not run for re-election but changed his mind after ending his presidential bid.

Rubio’s eventual endorsement of Trump surprised many observers after their heated exchanges during the primary campaign. Most Florida voters (63%), though, are actually unaware that Rubio gave his support to Trump and most say that this endorsement will not affect their vote either for president (83%) or for senator (64%). Among the remainder, 11% say Rubio’s endorsement will make them less likely to vote for Trump and 5% say it makes them more likely. In the Senate race, though, 25% say the endorsement actually makes them less likely to vote for Rubio while just 9% say it makes them more likely.

“Rubio’s endorsement of Trump could come back to bite him if more voters actually learn about it.  It remains to be seen whether the eventual Democratic nominee can turn this to his advantage in the general election campaign,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 12 to 15, 2016 with 402 Florida residents likely to vote in the November election. This sample has a margin of error of +4.9 percent.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.