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Poll: Among Southern White House contenders, Rubio viewed most favorably by GOP voters

Republican voters in Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll had the least favorable view of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

southern states smWASHINGTON (CFP) — A new poll finds that among the eight Southerners considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is viewed most favorably by Republican voters.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

Fifty-six percent of Republican voters surveyed by in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they could see themselves supporting Rubio, while just 26 percent could not, a favorability gap of 30 points. Fourteen percent were undecided.

Not only was that the best showing among the potential Southern contenders, but it was better than every other expected candidate in the field except Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who had a favorability gap of 36 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, just 26 percent of Republican voters said they could see themselves supporting U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, while 51 percent — an outright majority — could not, an unfavorability gap of 31 points. However, 29 percent were still undecided about Graham.

The poll showed Republican voters may have largely made up their minds about three of the possible candidates in the race — former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. The percentage of undecided for all three was under 12 percent.

But substantial percentages of the GOP voters have not made up their minds about Graham, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, all of whom had undecided readings above 20 percent.

The margin of error in the poll, released March 11, was plus or minus 6.48 percentage points.

Here is how the other potential Southern candidates fared:

  • Huckabee: 52 percent could support, 40 percent could not support, 8 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 12 points.
  • Bush: 49 percent could support, 42 percent could not support, 9 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 7 points.
  • Paul of Kentucky: 49 percent could support, 40 percent could not support, 11 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 9 points.
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry: 45 percent could support, 40 percent could not support, 15 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 5 points.
  • Cruz: 40 percent could support, 38 percent could not support, 22 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 2 points.
  • Jindal: 36 percent could support, 25 percent could not support, 39 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 11 points.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas.


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