A new poll released today by Quinnipiac University shows Democrat Hillary Clinton as the overwhelming favorite to win the state in a hypothetical matchup against numerous potential Republican candidates. According to the poll, Clinton's closest competitor in the state would be former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who still trails Clinton by eight points. Clinton leads other potential GOP candidates by even more, in some cases defeating the Republican by over 20 points.
According to the poll, Clinton would defeat the Republican Party favorites by the following margins:
- Clinton 49% versus former Governor Jeb Bush 41% (+8 Clinton)
- Clinton 52% versus Senator Marco Rubio 40% (+12 Clinton)
- Clinton 55% versus Senator Rand Paul 37% (+18 Clinton)
- Clinton 52% versus Governor Chris Christie 34% (+18 Clinton)
- Clinton 56% versus Representative Paul Ryan 36% (+20 Clinton)
- Clinton 57% versus Senator Ted Cruz 31% (+26 Clinton)
- Clinton 55% versus former Governor Mike Huckabee 35% (+20 Clinton)
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,413 registered voters in Florida. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. The party identification breakdown of respondents was 25% Republican, 31% Democrat, and 34% independent. None of those numbers suggest the poll is somehow skewed to favor either party.
Two main lessons stand out from the poll's numbers for Clinton.
First, Clinton leads two Florida politicians by at least eight points. Jeb Bush, even with the anchor of the Bush name, manages to be closer to Clinton than Senator Marco Rubio. If Bush or Rubio won the Republican Party nomination they would presumably have to push more conservative positions which would, at least in theory, downgrade their support more to the level of their conservative competitors Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, and Ted Cruz.
Second, the poll tends to show Floridians disfavor the more fiscally conservative Republican candidates like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan whose positions may be seen as a threat to programs like Medicare and Social Security. The key to winning Florida may be the ability of the Republican candidate to distant himself from any threat, real or perceived, to these entitlement programs.
The most recent Electoral College map projection has Republicans winning Florida, but that projection may change when updated next week with the polling data above. The Electoral College map which does not include Clinton as a candidate has the Republican candidate winning the state, and that projection is unlikely to change. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the Republicans to reach the 270 Electoral College votes they need without winning Florida's 29 electoral votes.