Clinton Tops Bush — in Florida?

Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, with husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, in Chicago.

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, with husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, in Chicago.

In Florida, the biggest of all presidential election swing states, a potential candidate such as the favorite-son former Gov. Jeb Bush should go a long way toward winning the White House for his party, right?

Maybe not. At least not today.

A Quinnipiac University poll which finds Bush the clear favorite among potential Republican candidates within his party in the Sunshine State also finds that Democrat Hillary Clinton could beat him there — if the 2016 were being held today, which of course…

This is a state that Clinton’s husband, Bill, carried once — at re-election in 1996. He lost Florida the first time, in 1992, to Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, though of course Clinton went on to win that election nationally.

Jeb Bush’s older brother, George W. Bush, carried Florida by a mere 537 votes in 2000 — a disputed election with thousands of spoiled ballots that took 36 days to resolve, ultimately ending with the Supreme Court handing the contest to Bush, though Democrat Al Gore had won a majority of the popular vote nationally. President Bush easily carried the state for reelection in 2004, yet then Democrat Barack Obama carried it twice — in 2008, and in 20012.

Thus, the perfect swing state.

Jeb Bush, elected governor in 1998 and 2002, is favored in Florida over another potential Republican candidate for 2016, first-term Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Bush claims 27 percent of Republicans surveyed there, followed by Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul, with 14 percent. Rubio scores 11 percent.

Yet, the poll finds this in a potential Bush-Clinton matchup:

Clinton 49 percent, Bush 41 percent.

That said, Bush poses a stronger challenge to Clinton in what is becoming the third-most populous state than other Republicans might, the survey found.

“He is the only potential GOP nominee who gets within single digits of her,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“For a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy in Florida, November 2016 can’t get here soon enough,” Brown says. “Not only does she out-point the entire field of potential Democratic wannabes for the party nomination put together, but her favorability numbers among all voters is near 60 percent.”

Then again, it’s a long way to 2016.


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