U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio changes the landscape in Florida when added to the Republican ticket, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll of registered voters in Florida. Assuming the selection of Rubio in the vice president spot, the Republican presidential nominee would secure 46 percent to President Barack Obama’s 41 percent, with 2 percent voting for an independent candidate and 12 percent undecided. The poll also showed Mitt Romney (25 percent) running neck-and-neck with Herman Cain (24 percent) among registered Republicans in Florida.
“Marco Rubio secures Florida which, along with Ohio, is one of the two most important swing states to win, said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Boston’s Suffolk University. “He also adds potential strength in states like New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, and Nevada, which have high Hispanic populations.”
Without Rubio in the mix, Obama tied Mitt Romney at 42 percent, led Herman Cain 42 percent to 39 percent, led Rick Perry 46 percent to 34 percent, led Ron Paul 44 percent to 32 percent, and led Newt Gingrich 45 percent to 38 percent.
Rubio’s significant impact was measured among Hispanic voters and younger voters. For example, with Rubio included as vice president, the Republican ticket wins 53 percent to 33 percent among Hispanic voters and 47 percent to 40 percent among younger voters ages 18-44, where Rubio has broad appeal.
While Obama struggles in the low 40 percent range on job performance and head-to-head matchups with Romney and Cain, he rockets to 50 percent when Hillary Clinton is added to the Democratic ticket.
When asked which ticket voters would support assuming a Democratic ticket of Obama-Clinton or a Republican ticket, 50 percent chose Obama-Clinton; 41 percent would vote Republican; 2 percent would select an independent candidate; and 6 percent were undecided.
“It’s ironic that in the 2008 Democratic Primary, Barack Obama had to overthrow Clinton and the more traditional factions of the Democratic Party to win the nomination,” said Paleologos. “Now Clinton has become the quantifiable lifeboat that could save a sinking Democratic ticket in 2012.”
The Suffolk University Political Research Center tracked Clinton’s popularity during midterm-election-cycle polling in October 2010, when her favorability was running 10-to-14 points higher than Obama’s in key states like Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Today in Florida, Clinton’s 64 percent favorable rating is 19 points higher than Obama’s 45 percent.
“Every extra percentage point advantage could mean major color changes on the electoral map, despite Hillary Clinton’s repeated refusals,” said Paleologos. “On the question of loyalty, Obama may have to grapple with his loyalty to his running mate Joe Biden versus his loyalty to the Democratic Party by fielding the strongest ticket possible.”
In the marquee match-up of an Obama-Clinton ticket versus a GOP ticket with Rubio as vice president, Obama led 46 percent to 43 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
“In Florida, Marco Rubio is superman, but Hillary Clinton is the kryptonite,” said Paleologos.
In the GOP Presidential Primary, Romney (25 percent) led Cain (24 percent), followed by Newt Gingrich (11 percent), Perry (9 percent), Ron Paul (5 percent) and Jon Huntsman (2 percent), with Michele Bachmann, Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum at 1 percent each. Twenty percent of registered Republicans remained undecided.
A majority of Sunshine State voters said they felt the country was on the wrong track (66 percent). Half (50 percent) said they disapproved of the job Obama is doing as president, while 41 percent approved, and 9 percent were undecided.
In January 2008 Suffolk University forecast that John McCain would win Florida’s Republican presidential primary by 3 points; McCain won by 5 points. In late October 2008, Suffolk University polling predicted a 5-point Barack Obama general election win. He won by 3 points on Election Day.
The statewide survey of 800 Florida registered voters was conducted October 26-30, 2011, through live telephone interviews. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Embargoed marginals and cross-tabulation data will be posted Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011, on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, firstname.lastname@example.org.