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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Poll: Clinton leads Trump by 5; voters don't buy Trump on 'birther' issue



Hillary Clinton has a 5 point lead over Donald Trump in Florida, a new Monmouth University poll shows, but that’s down from last month when she led by 9 percentage points.

In the Senate race, Marco Rubio has a “statistically insignificant” 2 point lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy, according to a polling memo.

Among likely voters, Clinton gets 46 percent to Trump’s 41 percent. Another 6 percent say they will vote for Gary Johnson and only 1 percent for Jill Stein. Five percent are undecided.

(The Real Clear Politics average, which does not currently include this poll, shows Trump with a slight edge).

“Although Clinton’s lead is smaller than in our last poll, she is maintaining her advantage in Florida given the ominous state of her poll standing last week,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Only 24 percent of voters think Trump actually believes Obama was born in the U.S., with 54 percent saying he made the admission last Friday for political reasons. While Trump blamed Clinton for starting the birther controversy, 47 percent of voters do not believe she did, vs. 35 percent who say she did.

While most voters (76%) say the issue will have no impact on their vote, 18 percent say Trump’s statement makes them less likely to vote for him and just 4 percent say it makes them more likely.

“If Trump wanted to put an end to his role in the birther controversy with his statement on Friday, it does not seem to have had the intended effect,” said Murray.

Rubio currently leads Murphy by 47 percent to 45 percent, with 3 percent supporting another candidate and 5% undecided. In a Monmouth poll taken before last month’s party primaries, Rubio held a 48-43 edge over Murphy.

From the polling memo:

Rubio holds a 52% to 42% lead in the more conservative northern portion of the state, as well as a 49% to 41% edge in the central part of the state.  However, the challenger actually holds a large 54% to 40% lead in Rubio’s home base of South Florida.

More Florida voters approve (46%) than disapprove (38%) of the job Rubio has done in his term as U.S. Senator, largely unchanged from his 47% approve and 39% disapprove rating last month.  However, 37% of Florida voters hold a favorable opinion of Rubio and 36% have an unfavorable view, which is down slightly from his more positive 40% favorable and 33% unfavorable rating in August.

Rubio initially said that he would not run for reelection but changed his mind after ending his presidential bid.  Florida voters are somewhat more cynical about his motivations than they were last month. Most say his decision to run for reelection was mainly to improve his chances for a future presidential run – 59% feel this way, which is up from 53% in August. Only 22% say his motivation sprang more from a desire to serve the public, compared to 25% who said the same last month.

“Rubio maintains a lead, but those who had all but written off this seat as a Democratic takeover opportunity may have been premature,” said Murray.

The Democratic challenger remains largely unknown, though. Murphy currently earns a 27% favorable and 13% unfavorable rating, with 59% having no opinion.  Last month he had a 22% favorable and 10% unfavorable rating, with 68% who had no opinion.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 16 to 19, 2016 with 400 Florida residents likely to vote in the November election.  This sample has a margin of error of +4.9 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 11:26am]


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