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New Pew poll shows Marco Rubio viewed positively by 75 percent of GOP voters 65 and older

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Pew Research poll published on Tuesday shows that Republican primary voters are more excited to vote for a president than in the past two election cycles.

It also shows that while Hillary Clinton remains extremely popular among Democratic voters, her support is the lowest in a Pew Poll since the spring of 2008, when she was last competing to run for president.

The survey of over 2,000 adults shows that 57 percent of Republican and GOP-leaning registered voters say they have an excellent or good impression of their party’s presidential candidates. That’s higher than this time four years ago, when just 44 percent of Republicans viewed the field of GOP candidates as excellent or good.

In September 2007, 50 percent gave the presidential candidates positive marks. It also shows that only 29 percent of registered voters say they are giving “a lot” of thought to candidates who may be running for president in 2016.

And while Clinton is supported for president by 77 percent of Democratic Party voters, Pew reports that her favorable ratings have declined – among the public, as well as Democrats – since last summer. Currently, 49 percent of the public has a favorable opinion of Clinton, while 47 percent view her unfavorably. Clinton’s overall favorability rating has fallen nine points from 58 percent last August.

This is Clinton’s lowest favorability mark since the spring of 2008, during her run for the Democratic nomination.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is the best known of those Republicans included in the survey, but he also has the highest unfavorable rating: 52 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners view Bush favorably, while 35 percent view him unfavorably.

Among other candidates, 54 percent of Republicans view Mike Huckabee favorably, while 23 percent view him unfavorably. Rand Paul’s favorable ratings are similar (52 percent favorable, 24 percent unfavorable).

About half of Republicans (51 percent) view Marco Rubio favorably, compared with 20 percent who have an unfavorable impression. But 29 percent are unable to rate the Florida senator. Wisconsin Gov.Scott Walker is viewed favorably by 46 percent, while 17 percent rate him unfavorably (36 percent are unable to rate). And 45 percent view Ted Cruz favorably, compared with 25 percent who view him unfavorably (30 percent can’t rate).

There also are demographic differences in Republicans’ views of these six GOP contenders. Older Republicans and Republican leaners – those 65 and older – give especially positive ratings to Rubio and Walker. By an overwhelming 64 percent to 6 percent margin, older Republicans hold a favorable view of Walker. And the 43-year-old Rubio is viewed positively by three-quarters of Republicans 65 and older (75 percent), while just 11 percent view him negatively (14 percent do not offer a rating).

Older Republicans also express positive views of Huckabee (52 percent favorable, 18 percent unfavorable) and Bush (60 percent vs. 27 percent). By contrast, Republicans age 65 and over hold more mixed views of Paul (42 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable) and Cruz (38 percent favorable, 25 percent unfavorable).

Younger Republicans, those under the age of 45, hold mixed views of Jeb Bush: about as many view him favorably (45 percent) as unfavorably (41 percent), while 15 percent cannot offer a rating. On balance, younger Republicans view the five other Republicans included in the survey more favorably than unfavorably.

The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted May 12-18, 2015, among a national sample of 2,002 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (700 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,302 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 750 who had no landline telephone).

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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