Quinnipiac’s early look at 2016 field shows Marco Rubio leading five-way field

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There is no front-runner now for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, leaving a five-way horse race with no candidate above 19 percent among Republican voters, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie, who ran better than other Republicans against top Democrats in a March 7 survey of all American voters by the independent Quinnipiac University, gets only 14 percent of Republican voters today.

Sen. Marco Rubio gets 19 percent of Republican voters, with 17 percent for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, 15 percent for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and 10 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.  Other contenders are at 3 percent or less.

The March 7 poll of all American voters, pitting Vice President Joseph Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo against Christie, Ryan or Rubio showed Christie was the second most popular leader, topping Biden and Cuomo but trailing Clinton.

“Three years before the nominating process, the Republicans have no clear favorite,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “Sen. Marco Rubio benefits from his exposure giving the GOP response to the State of the Union while Congressman Paul Ryan is known as the Republican vice presidential candidate.  But history tells us being the running-mate on a losing ticket does not help one’s presidential chances. The last three Republicans in that spot were Sarah Palin, Jack Kemp and Dan Quayle, while the Democrats in that role were John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Lloyd Bentsen.”

Republican voters say 59 – 23 percent that they prefer someone with experience as a governor, rather than a senator as their party’s nominee.

“History indicates that Republicans who win the White House tend to be former governors and there are several thinking about running for the White House in 2016,” said Brown.  “New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is obviously the best known at this point, and Jeb Bush makes the top five, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell barely register in this survey.”

Among all American voters, the Democratic Party is less disliked than the GOP: the Democrats get a negative 38 – 44 percent favorability, compared to a negative 28 – 52 percent for the Republicans.  The Tea Party gets a negative 24 – 43 percent.

Voters also give Republicans in Congress a negative 19 – 71 percent job approval, compared to a negative 34 – 59 percent for the Democrats in Congress.

“The Republican brand is essentially in the toilet these days, but it’s worth remembering the Democrats faced a similar situation in the late 1980s and got their house in order and returned  to power in short order,” said Brown.

The Republican Party can do a better job handling the federal deficit, American voters say 43 – 36 percent, while the Democrats will do a better job 49 – 37 percent on health care,     49 – 28 percent on same-sex marriage, and 42 – 38 percent on immigration.  Voters are divided almost evenly on which party can do a better job on the economy, taxes and gun control.

Among the most important issues in deciding how they will vote for Congress, 40 percent of American voters list the economy/jobs, with 20 percent listing the budget or budget deficit, 20  percent listing health care, 9 percent citing gun issues and 8 percent listing taxes.

President Barack Obama gets a 49 – 45 percent job approval rating.

“President Barack Obama got a post-election bounce to 53 – 40 percent in a December Quinnipiac University poll.  Then he dropped into mid-40s splits as the budget battle with Congress took its toll,” Brown said.  “Now he may be inching up again.”

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.