April 27, 2015 — Quinnipiac University conducted a new nationwide poll (April 16-21; 1,323 registered voters; 567 Republican primary voters, 569 Democratic primary voters) and found a new leader among the prospective Republican candidates: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
According to the data, Rubio, clearly receiving a major bump from his major announcement event that earned him positive national media coverage, leads the growing pack of GOP hopefuls but with a small 15 percent preference factor. Fellow Floridian Jeb Bush is next with 13 percent, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who posts 11 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is fourth with nine percent, followed by all the others in lower single-digits.
For the Democrats, it is again Hillary Clinton easily leading Vice President Joe Biden, 60-10 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) follows with eight percent, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley registers only three percent preference.
But the ballot test numbers do not reveal Clinton’s image problems. A red flag is raised over the sample group’s response to the question concerning the former Secretary of State and First Lady’s trustworthiness. By a margin of 38:54 percent, the sampling universe believes she is neither honest nor trustworthy. Most of that ratio comes from Republicans, who responded negatively in an 87-9 percent clip. That is countered by a 75-17 percent positive response from Democrats, however. The major point of concern should be her standing with Independents. Here, by a margin of 30-61 percent, this important swing cell group does not believe she is honest or trustworthy.
The Rubio leap is almost assuredly directly tied to the flurry of news coverage surrounding his announcement and decision not to seek re-election to the Senate. While this may be a short-lived bounce, the fact that the candidates can move up so quickly reveals the fluidity within the early contest. We can expect to see much more of this before any of the contenders are able to develop staying power.
The bad news from this poll, as we are similarly finding in other data, is for Jeb Bush. Though 25 percent of the respondents say they still need more information to form an opinion of him, those that do have one generally view him negatively. His favorability ratio is only 30:43 percent positive to negative. This contrasts with a 35:25 percent ratio for Sen. Rubio, for example. And, at only 13 percent preference among the sampled Republicans, he faces a situation where 87 percent of the group is choosing another candidate or is undecided even though all know his name.
Earlier last week, CNN/ORC, International released a nationwide poll of 1,018 adults that gave Clinton big leads over all Republican potential opponents. The methodology of that particular poll did not even target registered voters, which casts serious doubts about its results. The Quinnipiac poll, even with small samples for the primary electoral cells, is much better and gives us a more likely picture of where the electorate stands today.
Looking at the hypothetical general election pairings, Clinton leads in every instance — but by small margins. This is likely a relatively accurate depiction of current national voter preference, but does indicate underlying problems for the ex-Secretary of State. At what should be a high point for her, particularly in light of Democratic analysts proclaiming the Republicans can’t scale their “blue wall” within the Electoral College, her numbers should be stronger.
Paired with Republican Q-Poll leader Rubio, Clinton leads only 45-43 percent. The two GOP candidates who Clinton matches up best against are Bush (46-39 percent) and Cruz (48-41 percent), but even these margins are underwhelming. She leads Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul by four points, 46-42 percent, and has varying five points leads over Gov. Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
In conclusion, this week produced two national polls each arriving at very different conclusions. According to CNN, Clinton is positioned to win the presidency in a walk. But, Quinnipiac sees every major Republican candidate as being within striking distance of beating her.
It is likely that we can expect many more months of highly conflicting results as we move closer to the heart of campaign season.