Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Florida thinks of Marco Rubio

Last week, I wrote a giant post looking at each potential Democratic candidate's approval ratings.

This week, I started doing the same for the GOP, but realized there are about twice as many potential, GOP candidates, and the post would run far too long.

Thus, instead of one giant post, I'll give each candidate a post, which will in turn give you a better chance to digest the numbers.

SO.... let's start the GOP candidates with Marco Rubio -- the guy who currently tops the Prez16 Power Rankings for 2016.

I looked at the nine, most recent polls for the senator (see below), spanning one year, to get a sense of where he stands with Floridians.

Here are the big takeaways on Rubio.

a. He's not insanely popular with Floridians.

The good news for Rubio is that he has a strong net approval rating of +17%. That's nothing to sneeze or snark about, and it suggests he's wearing well on Floridians.

Having said that, the bad news for Rubio is that just 50% approve of the job he's doing, while 33% don't.

Obviously, that's a good net number, but insanely popular politicians can usually jump north of 50% in their home state.

The big caveat is that Rubio has been a U.S. Senator for just two years, but he was the Speaker of the state House before that, he's been one of the most visible GOP senators of the past two years, and there was relentless speculation that he might be a Veep candidate.

So, at this point, you'd think he could manage an approval number that consistently tops 50%. He might get there. He's just not there yet.

b. Women like him.

Over the past year, he's averaged a 47%/36% approval rating with women for a net +11%.

That's not just impressive because women tend to be more Democratic, it's also impressive because in two of the last five polls, his net approval rating with women was actually higher than with men.

So why's this important?

For the Republican presidential nominee to win in 2016, he or she has to eat into the gender gap, and it's clear that Rubio has appeal to Florida women.

In 2010, women chose Kendrick Meek/Charlie Crist over Rubio, 55%-44%, so Rubio's approval rating is already higher than his female support in the 2010 election.

In 2016, it'll be interesting to see whether Rubio can actually improve on his 44% with women. Approval ratings are often a pretty good proxy for voter preference, so it looks like he's on track to inch up with women.

c. He's performing solidly with Hispanics.

In 2010, Rubio scored 55% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, but only 51% of Hispanics approve of the job he's doing.

At first, that sounds bad, but the important caveat is that 14% of Hispanics don't have an opinion on Rubio's job performance.

So it's better to compare net scores.

In 2010, Rubio won Hispanics by 10%, and, now, he averages a +16% approval rating with the group. So you can make the case that he's in better standing with them now than in 2010.

But it's especially interesting to compare Rubio's popularity with that of Florida's Democratic senator, Bill Nelson.

Theoretically, Nelson's identification with the Democratic party should make him more popular with Hispanics, but in the polls below, Nelson only manages a +9% approval rating with Hispanics, even though he's a fairly popular senator.

Rubio, though, scores +16% with Hispanics.

Thus, Hispanics are more jazzed about Rubio's performance than about Nelson's, which is an encouraging sign for Republicans.

d. His numbers are steady.

Over the last year, his approval ratings maintained a steady course that didn't jump or ebb during the 2012 fight for Florida.

That suggests that he's hit a groove that's relatively immune to political turmoil, and a +17% approval rating is a good place to groove at.

e. He's popular with independents.

In 2010, Rubio squeaked by with independents, beating the Crist/Meek combo, 51%-48%. His approval number with the group currently is a strong +15%.

If you take approval as a proxy for voter preference, that means he should do very well with independents in his reelection race, and it also augurs well for his national prospects.

f. How will immigration reform affect his numbers?

The most recent poll out there is from January, and I'm desperate to see what his numbers look like over the course of the next few months.


As you know, he's been making a giant push toward the middle on immigration, and it will be fascinating to see whether a) his approval ratings with Republicans fall and b) whether his ratings with Hispanics and Democrats rise.

After all.... there's this pic floating out there on Google images.

Marco Rubio and the "Gang of Eight" (photo: J Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rubio Polling Averages:

Average overall approval rating: 50%/33% for +17%.
Average with women: 47%/36% for +11%.
Average with men: 54%/34% for +20%.
Average with the GOP: 80%/10% for +70%.
Average with Democrats: 23%/54% for -31%.
Average with independents: 49%/34% for +15%.
Average with Whites: 55%/30% for +25%.
Average with Hispanics: 51%/35% for +16%.
Average with Blacks:  27%/47% for -20%.

Here are the individual polls that the averages above are based on (H/T on many of them to Talking Points Memo's Poll Tracker).

a. Public Policy Polling (January 2013).

Overall approval rating: 49%/36% for +13%.
Approval with women: 41%/37% for +4%.
Approval with men: 57%/35% for +22%.
Approval with the GOP: 75%/16% for +59%.
Approval with Democrats: 24%/55% for -31%.
Approval with independents: 53%/28% for +25%.
Approval with Hispanics: 45%/43% for +2%......... Bill Nelson is at +15%.
Approval with Whites: 51%/35% for +16%.
Approval with Blacks: 49%/36% for +13%.

b. Quinnnipiac University (December 2012).

Overall approval rating: 52%/30% for +22%.
Approval with women: 51%/28% for +23%.
Approval with men: 52%/33% for +19%.
Approval with the GOP: 77%/11% for +66%.
Approval with Democrats: 33%/45% for -12%.
Approval with independents: 47%/34% for +13%.
Approval with Hispanics: 52%/33% for +19%..... Bill Nelson is at +31%.
Approval with Whites: 55%.28% for +27%.
Approval with Blacks: 33%/40% for -7%.

c. Public Policy Polling (October 2012).

Overall approval rating: 48%/35% for +13%.
Approval with women: 44%/37% for +7%.
Approval with men: 54%/34% for +20%.
Approval with the GOP: 79%/9% for +70%.
Approval with Democrats: 16%/60% for -44%.
Approval with independents: 55%/36% for +19%.
Approval with Hispanics: 51%/38% for +13%...... Bill Nelson is at -12%.
Approval with Whites: 54%/31% for +23%.
Approval with Blacks: 16%/53% for =37%.

d. Public Policy Polling (September 2012).

Overall approval rating: 52%/32% for +20%.
Approval with women: 48%/30% for +18%.
Approval with men: 56%/34% for +22%.
Approval with the GOP: 85%/9% for +76%.
Approval with Democrats: 26%/51% for -25%.
Approval with independents: 50%/33% for +17%.
Approval with Hispanics: 55%-33% for +22%...... Bill Nelson is at -19%.
Approval with Whites: 58%/29% for +29%.
Approval with Blacks: 18%/49% for -31%.

e. Public Policy Polling (August 2012).

Overall approval rating: 51%/33% for +18%.
Approval with women: 52%/29% for +23%.
Approval with men: 51%/38% for +13%.
Approval with the GOP: 85%/11% for +74%.
Approval with Democrats: 26%/51% for -25%.
Approval with independents: 42%/38% for +4%.
Approval with Hispanics: 54%/29% for +25%.
Approval with Whites: 56%/31% for +25%.
Approval with Blacks: 27%/49% for -22%.

f. Public Policy Polling (July 2012).

Overall approval rating: 45%/42% for +3%.
Approval with women: 44%/40% for +4%.
Approval with men: 47%/45% for +2%.
Approval with the GOP: 74%/17% for +67%.
Approval with Dems: 19%/65% for -46%.
Approval with indies: 44%/45% for -1%.
Approval with Hispanics: 41%/47% for -6%.
Approval with Whites: 53%/37% for +16%.
Approval with Blacks: 16%/59% for +43%.

g. Quinnipiac University (June 2012).

Overall approval rating: 51%/31% for +20%.
Approval with women: 47%/32% for +15%.
Approval with men: 55%/31% for +24%.
Approval with the GOP: 84%/6% for +76%.
Approval with Dems: 23%/55% for +32%.
Approval with independents: 48%/32% for +16%.
Approval with Hispanics: 53%.31% for +22%.................Bill Nelson is at +33%.
Approval with Whites: 55%/28% for +27%.
Approval with Blacks: 30%/45% for -15%.

h. Quinnipiac University (May 2012).

Overall approval rating: 54%/27% for +27%.
Approval with women: 49%/29% for +20%.
Approval with men: 59%/26% for +23%.
Approval with women: 49%/29% for +20%.
Approval with the GOP: 83%/5% for +78%.
Approval with Dems: 22%/54% for -32%.
Approval with indies: 54%/27% for +27%.
Approval with Hispanics 55%/29% for +26%.
Approval with Whites: 59%/24% for +35%.
Approval with Blacks: 25%/46% for -21%.

i. Quinnipiac University (September 2011).

Overall approval rating: 49%/31% for +18%.
Approval with women: 44%/31% for +13%.
Approval with men: 54%/30% for +24%.
Approval with the GOP: 81%/10% for +71%.
Approval with Dems: 19%/52% for -23%.
Approval with indies: 52%/30% for +22%.