By Jim EllisMarch 11, 2021 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy completed a new Florida political poll testing Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R) standing as he begins to construct a re-election campaign for a third term.
Though M-D did not test Sen. Rubio against another potential opponent, either Democratic or Republican, they did ask whether the respondents would vote to re-elect him.
The poll, conducted during the Feb. 24-28 period, asked a sampling universe of 625 Florida registered voters a series of questions about Sen. Rubio and President Joe Biden. The results identified areas of political strength and potential weakness for the Republican senator and contrasted them with those for the new president.
According to the data, Sen. Rubio posts a 47:42 percent positive job approval rating statewide. This compares to President Biden already landing in slight upside-down territory, 47:49 percent.
Asking whether the respondents would vote to re-elect Sen. Rubio, by a margin of 46-40 percent, the sampling group participants said they would. Region, gender, age, ethnicity, and party registration segmented the respondent universe.
Comparing Sen. Rubio and President Biden’s numbers, the results were almost exactly opposite. From geographic regions, Sen. Rubio recorded positive numbers in north and central Florida, the Tampa Bay area, and southwest Florida. He was upside-down in the southeastern part of the state. For President Biden, his disapproval scores outpaced his approval ratings in all but southeast Florida.
In terms of gender, President Biden does better with women than men (49:46 percent, female; 45:53 percent, male), while Sen. Rubio is much more positive with men (51:39 percent, male; 44:45 percent, female). President Biden does well with those 50 years of age and younger (51:44 percent positive), while he falls into negative territory with those aged 50 and older (44:53 percent). Again, Sen. Rubio scores the exact opposite (39:48 percent, <50; 54:37 percent, >50).
In the race segment, it is not surprising that President Biden’s strongest group was blacks, where he scored an 86:9 percent favorability rating. Among whites, the president was upside-down, recording a 38:59 percent negative ratio. Again, unsurprisingly, Senator Rubio performed in the opposite manner. He posted a 51:39 percent approval ratio with whites and a negative 15:69 percent ratio with blacks.
Hispanics is one category where the two men performed similarly. President Biden held a 53:41 percent positive rating among Hispanics, while Sen. Rubio logged a 59:31 percent showing.
The partisan category is what one would expect, lopsided favorable ratings for Biden among Democrats and virtually the same spread for Rubio among Republicans. The key Independent category again broke in an opposite manner, positive for Rubio (53:35 percent) and negative for Bien (41:54 percent).
The Biden re-elect score, while the 46:40 percent score doesn’t look particularly impressive on the surface, is actually must better than a six-point spread would suggest. Most incumbents score in negative territory on the re-elect question, so anyone posting positive numbers is stronger than the face value totals would suggest.
Looking at the segmentation, we detect a similar pattern to the previous data. Geographically, Sen. Rubio scores in solid positive numbers throughout the state until coming to southeast Florida, ironically, his home region. There, he posts a 36:53 percent ratio that contrasts to a mirror average of 53:36 percent throughout the rest of Florida.
At this point, Sen. Rubio looks to be in good, but not unassailable political position. Potential Democratic opponents include Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park), former Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Alan Grayson, and former Republican Rep. David Jolly potentially running as a minor party candidate or Independent.
With Republicans having to defend 20 of the 34 in-cycle seats with as many as seven of their seats going to open status, the GOP needs a strong performance from Sen. Rubio in Florida and several other incumbents in other typically competitive states if they are to have any chance of re-claiming the majority in the next election.