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Poll: Bush, Rubio open up lead over Hillary Clinton in Florida

Clinton’s unfavorable rating in Florida climbs to 55 percent

♦By Rich Shumate,

florida mugGAINESVILLE, Florida (CFP) — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have opened up big leads over Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the presidential race in the key swing state of Florida, a new poll shows.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

The Quinnipiac Poll released August 20 also shows New York businessman Donald Trump and Bush leading among Florida Republicans; however, nearly 30 percent of state GOP voters say they would definitely not support the controversial Trump if he became the nominee.

In a hypothetical general election race, Bush bests Clinton 49 percent to 38 percent, well outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. Rubio does even better, 51 percent to 39 percent.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The results are a marked change from the same poll in June, when Clinton held a slight lead over both Bush and Rubio. And in the latest poll, 55 percent of Florida voters had an unfavorable view of Clinton — up 10 points from June.

Nearly two-thirds of Florida voters — 64 percent — say Clinton is not honest or trustworthy.

Clinton even narrowly trails Trump, 43 percent to 41 percent, although that gap was within the margin of error.

In nine of the last 10 presidential elections, the winner of the presidential race in Florida also won nationally, making a victory in the Sunshine State vital for anyone who wants to capture the White House.

In the GOP primary race, Trump was the choice of 21 percent of Florida Republicans, with Bush at 17 percent, which was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson tied for third at 11 percent each.

However, 29 percent of Republican voters polled say they will definitely not support Trump if he is the nominee, a larger group than those now supporting him. And just 55 percent of the GOP voters polled view Trump positively, compared to 87 percent for Rubio and 81 percent for Bush.

Trump’s demeanor is also seen as a problem, with 64 percent saying he lacks the temperament and personality to handle an international crisis.

In the Democratic primary race, Clinton still maintains a wide lead in Florida, with support from 48 percent of Democrats polled. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont trails at 15 percent, and Vice President Joe Biden, who had yet to announce a 2016 White House bid, comes in at 11 percent.

In head-to-head matchups against Republicans, Biden runs slightly better against Rubio and Trump than does Clinton but slightly worse against Bush. The poll shows Sanders is weaker than Clinton against all three Republicans.

In the poll, 1093 Florida voters were interviewed, including 477 Republicans and 345 Democrats.

In 2016, the Florida primary will be held early in the primary calendar, on March 15, which is likely to give the state added prominence in the presidential nominating process.

The Florida GOP has also made its contest a winner-take-all affair, which means the winner gets a treasure trove of 99 delegates.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb opens presidential exploratory committee

Virginian is the first Democrat to make a move toward a nomination fight with Hillary Clinton

By Rich Shumate, editor

virginia mugBURKE, Virginia (CFP) — Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb has 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.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

“We desperately need to fix our country and to reinforce the values that have sustained us, many of which have fallen by the wayside in the nasty debates of the last several years,” Webb said in an open letter published on his committee’s website.

“I look forward to listening and talking with more people in the coming months as I decide whether or not to run.”

Webb is the first Southerner in either party to make a move toward a presidential bid. However, at least six Southern Republicans are considering running, including U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida; Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas; and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Webb, 68, served as a Marine combat officer in Vietnam and was navy secretary during the Reagan administration. In 2006, he ran for the U.S. Senate and rode that year’s Democratic wave to a victory incumbent GOP U.S. Senator George Allen, which gave Democrats control over the upper chamber.

However, he opted not to seek re-election in 2012 after serving a single term.

While Webb was considered a Democratic moderate in the Senate, his exploratory committee announcement hinted that he may be planning to run against Clinton as an economic populist, noting that “the disparities between those at the very top and the rest of our society have only grown larger since the economic crash of late 2008 and early 2009.”

Webb also acknowledged that he faces “what many commentators see as nearly impossible odds” in securing the Democratic nomination.

“We are starting with very little funding and no full-time staff, but I’ve been here before,” he said. “In February 2006, I announced for the Senate only nine months before the election against an entrenched incumbent. We had no money and no staff. We were more than 30 points behind in the polls.”

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