Jacksonville University Poll: Trump leads, Fiorina and Rubio Rise, Bush Steady

By  //  September 28, 2015

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Donald Trump remains the frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates in Florida, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush maintaining strong support, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina surging, neurosurgeon Ben Carson losing some ground and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on the rise, according to a Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute poll of registered Republican likely voters released recently.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – Donald Trump remains the frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates in Florida, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush maintaining strong support, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina surging, neurosurgeon Ben Carson losing some ground and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on the rise, according to a Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute poll of registered Republican likely voters released recently.

The Jacksonville University PPI Poll, conducted from Sept. 17-22, shows a major shakeup in Florida, with five candidates polling in double digits in a tightening race: Trump at 24.4 percent, Bush at 16.9 percent, Fiorina at 15.6 percent, Carson at 15 percent and Rubio at 14.9 percent.

While Trump leads, the poll also shows he has a favorability rating of 50.1 percent and the highest unfavorability rating of any candidate in the field, at 40.3 percent. The favorable/unfavorable percentage ratings for the other four top candidates are: Bush 68/25, Fiorina 72.6/10.5, Carson 77.6/11.8 and Rubio 79.7/12.3.

In good news for Trump, Fiorina and Carson, respondents preferred candidates with business over government experience by a 44.6 percent to 18 percent margin, did not believe it was necessary to hold elected office to become President by 66.7 percent to 28.7 percent, and disagreed by 82.7 percent to 17.3 percent that the more experience in politics candidates have, the better President they will be.

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Florida’s 99 GOP delegates are considered crucial to gaining the party’s presidential nomination. All primaries prior to the state’s March 15 primary are proportional, while Florida’s primary is a “winner-take-all.”

Florida is also viewed as a must-win in the general election because its 29 electoral votes are the most among key swing states. It was the only state decided by less than 1 percent in 2012, with Barack Obama besting Mitt Romney 50.0 percent to 49.1 percent.

Rick Mullaney

Rick Mullaney

“The conventional wisdom was that former Gov. Bush or Sen. Rubio were a lock to win the Florida primary,” said Rick Mullaney, director of the JU Public Policy Institute.

“This poll, however, shows a much more competitive race in Florida with five candidate polling in double figures. It also reflects the strong debate performances by Mrs. Fiorina and Sen. Rubio in the last debate, with both moving up substantially.”

The poll, which asked respondents their opinions of the GOP candidates in personal phone interviews, was conducted with a sampling technique designed to increase accuracy by surveying Republican voters most likely to vote in the Florida primary.

Paulina S. Rippere

Paulina S. Rippere

“While Trump remains in the lead, his high unfavorable rating and the 30 percent of respondents in the poll who said they would not vote for him suggests there is a ceiling of support for him in Florida,” said JU Political Science Assistant Professor Paulina S. Rippere.

“As candidates drop out and the field narrows, the poll results indicate that these votes will go to other candidates, and not to Trump.”

This Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Poll includes landline and cell phone interviews, conducted by interviewers, in English and Spanish, among a random sample of 585 registered Florida Republican likely voters from September 17-22, 2015.

The margin of error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

For the full results of the poll, please visit http://www.ju.edu/ppi.


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