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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Fla Insider Poll: Jeb Bush much stronger prez candidate than Marco Rubio



flpoll.Yes, it’s too early to be looking at the 2016 presidential election, but it’s hard to ignore that two prominent Floridians top the list of potential Republican nominees: former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio, 41, is the early favorite among Republican voters, polls show, and he is doing nothing to bat down the speculation about him running. Among the big decisions he’ll face? Does he really want to leave the senate after one term, because he could not not run for two offices at the same time.

Bush, 59, hasn’t been schmoozing activists in Iowa already, as Rubio has, but has already drawn a front page New York Times story about the potential of him running for the office his father and brother held. Among the factors he’ll face? Is the Bush name still radioactive? Would his wife support it? Could it harm his sons’ political ambitions?

Among all the pundit speculation about the two Miami-Dade Republicans, we decided to conduct another Florida Insider Poll to survey the politicos who know the Bush and Rubio best. More than 100 of Florida’s most plugged in political players - campaign operatives, fundraisers, lobbyists, and the like - participated, and some of the results surprised us:

***62 percent expect Bush will run in 2016.
***55 percent doubt Marco Rubio will run in 2016.
***As to who would be the stronger candidate, it wasn’t even close: 81 percent said Bush would be stronger.

“Rubio will make 2016 noises and preparations to increase his profile and lay the stage for himself in case Jeb doesn’t run. But if Jeb, does decide to run, he will step aside, the same way he has said would have done had Jeb wanted to run for Senate in 2010. Jeb Bush is heads and shoulders above Rubio, literally,” said one Republican.

Another Republican: “Jeb is weighed down heavily -very heavily - by his name. I think out of the three (GHWB, GWB & Jeb), he’s the most conservative and intelligent of the bunch, and he has some strong positives (record on education, how he handled the seemingly endless 2004-2005 hurricanes), but even I am hesitant about the idea of Yet Another Bush. Enough Bushes, Clintons, Kennedys, etc. Time for some fresh faces.”

Participants in the latest Florida Insider Poll included 50 Democrats, 56 Republicans, and nine people registered to neither major party. The overwhelming consensus was that Rubio would step aside if Bush ran.
“The problem for Marco Rubio is that he’s spent a few years in the “conservative golden boy” limelight. He’s done the canned policy speeches at Heritage, done the roundtables at National Review. What is unclear is how he accumulates gravitas between now and 2014 when the GOP race will formalize. That is not a problem for Jeb,” said one Democrat.

“Marco is only slightly ‘stronger’ due to Jeb’s problems outside of Florida,” said another Democrat. “They both would likely deliver FL for the Repubs, While Jeb is unquestionably more credible and “Presidential” than Marco, the Bush name is far too damaged in midwestern battleground states for Jeb to carry the electoral votes needed.”

The latest batch of Florida Insiders: Alex Heckler, Ana Navarro, Ann Herberger, Karl Koch, Bud Shorstein, Kirk Pepper, Kirk Wagar, Jim Kitchens, Jackie Lee, Bernie Campbell, Roger Stone, David Johnson, David Beattie, Vincent Harris, Ryan Tyson, Kevin Cate, Tyler Hudson, Jeff Johnson, Mark Ferrulo, Tre Evers, Scott Arceneaux, Ben Pollara, Bob Poe, Ron Sachs, Lucy Morgan, Peter Schorsch, Monica Russo, Chris Kise, Damien Filer, David Bishop, Van Poole, Nancy Watkins, Ken Jones, Dave Karvelas, John Stemberger, Stephanie Kunkel, Jamie Wilson, Robert Coker, Jamie Miller, Daniel Smith, Susannah Randolph, Dylan Sumner, Steve Schale, Andy Ford, Jill Chamberlin, Gus Corbella, Sarah Rumpf, Greg Truax, John Morgan, Screven Watson, Stephen Shiver, Bill McBride, Mike Hamby, Towson Fraser, Greg Turbeville, Scott Peelen, John Dowless, Adam Goodman, John Wehrung, Trey McCarley, Tom Gaitens, Eric Jotkoff, Christian Ulvert, Kathy Mears, Rick Wilson, Rich Heffley, Carlos Curbelo, Marion Hammer, Mark Gilbert, Darryl Paulson, Ken Plante, Meredith O'Rourke, Mel Sembler, Jeff Cohen, Shannon Gravitte, Frank Tsamoutales, Cynthia Henderson, Richard Swann, James Harris, Ron Greenstein, Eric Johnson, Hayden Dempsey, Al Cardenas, Dave Aronberg, Andrew Weinstein, Brad Coker, Justin Day, Nancy McGowan, John French, Steve Geller, Steve Uhlfelder, Slater Bayliss, Sarah Bascom, Michael Albetta, Tom Tillison, Marc Reichelderfer, Jim Davis, Alex Burgos, Christina Johnson, Richard Gentry, Rodney Barreto, David Custin, Joe Perry, Henry Kelley, Donald Hinkle, Abel Harding, Husein Cumber, Ashley Walker, Alex Sink, Todd Wilder, Chris Korge, Karen Unger.

[Last modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 12:24am]


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