June 22, 2015 — Quinnipiac University released the second part of their June 4-15 polling set for the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The follow-up data covers the early primary polling results for each place. The sample sizes are small: 458 Republicans and 378 Democratic primary voters in Florida, 434R; 388D in Ohio, and 413R; 402D for Pennsylvania, which of course decreases reliability.
That being the case, the three Republican polling leaders are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Sunshine State, Ohio Gov. John Kasich in his home domain, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for Pennsylvania. But, in all cases, the margins are small and the field is bunched close together. In the aggregate, the three states account for 236 delegates — FL: 99 Winner-Take-All; OH: 66 likely Winner-Take-All; PA: 71 likely Loophole (voters select individual delegates) — which represent 9.5 percent of the entire Republican nominating universe.
In Florida, Bush tops Sen. Rubio by only two points, 20-18 percent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker trails in third place with nine percent. Dr. Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are next with seven and six percent, respectively. All other candidates finish at five percent and below.
Polling now indicates that the Florida race has the strong potential of evolving into a two-person campaign between the state’s favorite sons. Its Winner-Take-All status may well lead candidates such as Gov. Walker and others to skip the heavy expense of campaigning there, knowing that they will win no delegates.
The Ohio numbers demonstrate some strength for the state’s governor, John Kasich, who tops the field with 19 percent. Ten points behind is ex-Gov. Bush, just one point ahead of Gov. Walker. Senators Rubio, Rand Paul, and ex-Gov. Huckabee all tie with seven percent, a point ahead of Dr. Carson and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The legislature’s action, signed into law by Kasich himself, makes Ohio a Winner-Take-All state and is now poised to make the governor a legitimate presidential contender.
The Pennsylvania results are tight. Here, Sen. Rubio takes first place, but with just 12 percent preference, followed closely by Sen. Paul’s 11 percent, while Bush and Dr. Carson are tied at 10 percent apiece. Gov. Walker is holding at nine percent. This poll suggests that the top contenders could all leave Pennsylvania with about the same number of delegates, understanding that the primary itself will likely only be a beauty contest, with voters subsequently choosing individual delegates who support a particular candidate.
Pennsylvania is a state where the final rules governing their system will have a major say as to how the delegate count in this important state is finally apportioned. Having the option of voting for an uncommitted slate could also greatly complicate matters. Should that option carry the state, the elected delegates would then be free agents at the convention, likely from the first ballot on depending upon the governing regulations dictated by the eventual party rules and state laws.
No surprises were recorded on the Democratic side, as Hillary Clinton enjoys huge leads in each of the three states. She records 64 percent in Florida, 60 percent in Ohio, and 53 percent from Pennsylvania. It is actually Vice President Joe Biden and not Sen. Bernie Sanders who comes in second place in each of the locations, but it is unlikely that the former will enter the race. Even in second place, his best number in the three states is only 15 percent (PA).
Expect the described patterns, for both parties, to continue into the foreseeable future.