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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Insider Poll: Jeb Bush stronger candidate than Marco Rubio






As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hits the Florida fundraising circuit this weekend still smarting from his bridge scandal, we can't help wonder how closely Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush will be monitoring his progress.After all, both Rubio and Bush are potential 2016 presidential rivals to Christie and Florida's deep pool of GOP campaign bundlers will be crucial to any candidate in 2016.

So it seemed a good time for a new Florida Insider Poll to check in on the perceptions of the Florida GOP's two favorite sons among the state's political intelligentsia. We surveyed 124 of Florida's smartest politicos and found some overwhelming and bi-partisan consensus:
Nearly 90 percent of the campaign consultants, activists, fundraisers, and lobbyists - these are Florida politicos who know Bush and Rubio the best - said Bush would be a stronger presidential candidate than Rubio. We asked the same question two years ago, and 81 percent said Bush would be stronger.

"Jeb Bush is sure to have more support from Republican leadership in Washington, D.C., than Rubio, who's struggling to repair the damage to his brand brought on by his early support of immigration reform," said one Republican.

It's highly unlikely both would run, and it's not certain that either will run. But what surprised Buzz is that our Florida Insiders think Bush is actually more likely to run for president than Rubio.

Only 44 percent expect Sen. Rubio to run, while 52 percent expect Bush will jump in. The Buzz's hunch is that Rubio is much more likely to run, but the recent damage done to Christie's image is likely to make some folks in the GOP establishment more skeptical about the New Jersey governor - and more interested in Bush.

"Chris Christie's recent problems have Republicans whispering Gov. Bush's name more and more loudly lately," one Republican noted. "New Jersey's loss may be Florida's gain."

Said another: "Never thought Jeb would run for President, still lean that way ....but things are certainly setting up nicely for him with no other GOP contender being able to get much traction over the last year or so . And Jeb is the only one with the ability to continue to wait and not feel pressure to jump in early. So at this point it looks like more of a possibility than ever before."

Asked whether they expect Rubio will seek a second U.S. Senate term if he does not run for president, 97 percent said they did.

We also asked about the special election in Pinellas County to succeed the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Sixty one percent predicted Democrat Alex Sink will will and 39 percent Republican David Jolly. Democrats are more optimistic, with nine and 10 predicting Sink will win. Two thirds of Republicans predicted a Jolly victory.

"Alex Sink should win a short campaign against a federal lobbyist with minimal name ID, but if anyone can blow this..." said one Democrat.

From a Republican: "Sink will be sunk by Obamacare. Special elections are about turning out the base and right now, the enthusiasm is with the Republicans who feel vindicated by the law's disastrous rollout and against the President and his party.

Our latest group of Insiders included 55 Democrats, 59 Republicans and 10 people registered to no party or to a third party. There are:

Andrew Gillum, Bill Helmich, Alex Patton, Kathy Mears, Fred Cunningham, Cory Tilley, Towson Fraser, Ana Navarro, Nancy Watkins, David Johnson, Bernie Campbell, Dan McLaughlin, Eric Eikenberg, Peter Schorsch, Tyler Hudson, Andy Ford, Rodney Barreto, Peter Wallace, Ellen Freidin, Stephen Shiver, Stephen Bittel, Kevin King, Jim Rimes, Karl Koch, John Dowless, Kirk Pepper, Trey McCarley, Richard Gentry, Allan Bense, John Morgan, Brian Hughes, Mike Hightower, Richard Swann, Steve Uhlfelder, Mac Stipanovich, Sarah Bascam, Doc Dockery, Roger Stone, Damien Filer, Darryl Paulson, Steve Geller, Brian Burgess, Meredith O'Rourke, Mike Hamby, Paula Dockery, Tom Tillison, Ann Herberger, Kirk Fordham, Eric Jotkoff, James Harris, Scott Arceneaux, Marty Fiorentino, Eric Johnson, Thomas Eldon, Kevin Cate, Jill Chamberlin, Van Poole, Screven Watson, Betty Castor, Kevin Akins, Jack Funari, Ryan Duffy, Susannah Randolph, Ryan Tyson, Seth McKee, Abel Harding, Susie Wiles, Dave Aronberg, Tom Gaitens, Alex Heckler, Ana Cruz, Jamie Miller, Nancy McGowan, Derek Newton, Steve Schale, John Stemberger, Ashley Walker, Jim Davis, Cynthia Henderson, Jeff Johnson, Greg Truax, Jamie Wilson, Sally Bradshaw, Gus Corbella, Chris Korge, Mitchell Berger, Sarah Rumpf, Kathleen Shanahan, Karen Unger, Robert Wexler, Ron Greenstein, Marion Hammer, Ron Sachs, Bob Poe, Rockie Pennington, Andrew Weinstein, Frank Tsamatoules, David Custin, John French, Marc Reichelderfer, Greg Turbeville, Aubrey Jewett, Mark Ferrulo, Bud Shorstein, Steve Yerrid, Alan Clendenin, Samuel Bell, John Wehrung, Justin Day, Tony Hill, Husein Cumber, Marcus Jadotte, Lucy Morgan, Dan Krassner, Brett Doster, Robert Coker, Donald Hinkle, Jason Roth, Todd Wilder, Paul Bradshaw, Roly Marante, Kelly Cohen

[Last modified: Friday, January 17, 2014 4:59pm]


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