Rubio surges in new Quinnipiac poll

Riding the crest of a high-profile announcement of his candidacy, Florida senator Marco Rubio has vaulted into a narrow lead in the race of the GOP presidentual nomination.

The generally positive reviews of Rubio's announcement gave him a 10-point jump in the respected Quinnipiac survey, from 5% to 15%.

Washington Times:

Sen. Marco Rubio has emerged as the strongest candidate in the GOP presidential field, topping the rest of his announced and potential rivals for the nomination and running best against top Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll Thursday.

Mrs. Clinton still leads Mr. Rubio in a national head-to-head match-up, 45 percent to 43 percent, but the 2-point margin is down from the 5-point lead she held over him a month ago in the same survey.

Mr. Rubio announced his candidacy earlier this month and has shot to the top of the GOP field nationally, garnering 15 percent of support among likely GOP primary voters — up from just 5 percent support a month ago. He has surmounted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was first in the March poll but who slipped to third place in this survey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, remains in second place, with 13 percent of GOP support.

“The youngest member of the GOP presidential posse moves to the front of the pack to challenge Hillary Clinton whose position in her own party appears rock solid,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll.

Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who have also announced their presidential bids, saw smaller jumps in support, and run fourth and fifth, respectively.

Mr. Walker and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson saw the biggest slides from the March poll.

So Rubio appears to have made the most of his 15 minutes, but focusing on the issues in the coming months may be more of a problem for him than for most other candidates.  He has already backtracked on his support for immigration reform (although he now says that the DREAMers should be able to stay in the country), and he has carefully triangulated a position on gays and gay marriage.

Reuters:

The Florida senator's staff have held quarterly meetings with the Log Cabin Republicans "going back some time", their executive director, Gregory Angelo, told Reuters. The meetings with the advocacy group were to discuss legislation, issues and opportunities to "partner on," Angelo said. Rubio's office declined to comment on the meetings.

The discussions highlight the tricky electoral math for Republican presidential aspirants like Rubio.

The Republican party will struggle to win the White House in 2016 if it relies only on the support of socially conservative voters. At the same time, presidential candidates will battle to win their party's nomination without those voters, who often dominate state primaries, or early voting contests.

That tension is starkly apparent on gay marriage. For years, staunch opposition to gay marriage was a reliably safe strategy for Republican candidates. No longer.

Facing an electorate that has sharply altered its views on the issue since the turn of the century, even Rubio, who has long opposed gay marriage, has softened his rhetoric, saying last week that he would attend a gay wedding of a loved one.

And then in an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday he said he believed "that sexual preference is something that people are born with" and is not a choice for most people.

While those kinds of comments might help win votes in the general election if he becomes the Republican nominee, they have the potential to antagonize the conservative Republican base he needs to win the primary, party activists said.

Rubio's strategy appears to be to target less ideological voters in the primaries and let the strong conservatives split the socon vote.  He figures there are a lot more of the former than the latter, and besides, there are a lot of big donors who are trying to recreate the image of Republicans as being more tolerant. 

It's a viable strategy, but one fraught with pitfalls.  He can't afford to anger socially conservative Republicans to the point that they actively oppose him.  And while social conservatives are not a monolithic bloc, he can't afford to turn his back on a significant percentage of the primary electorate, either.

Keeping in touch with the base while eschewing some of their beliefs is a balancing act worthy of a Wallenda.  If Rubio can pull it off, he will be competitive with those candidates who will probably raise more money and have better national name recognition.

Riding the crest of a high-profile announcement of his candidacy, Florida senator Marco Rubio has vaulted into a narrow lead in the race of the GOP presidentual nomination.

The generally positive reviews of Rubio's announcement gave him a 10-point jump in the respected Quinnipiac survey, from 5% to 15%.

Washington Times:

Sen. Marco Rubio has emerged as the strongest candidate in the GOP presidential field, topping the rest of his announced and potential rivals for the nomination and running best against top Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll Thursday.

Mrs. Clinton still leads Mr. Rubio in a national head-to-head match-up, 45 percent to 43 percent, but the 2-point margin is down from the 5-point lead she held over him a month ago in the same survey.

Mr. Rubio announced his candidacy earlier this month and has shot to the top of the GOP field nationally, garnering 15 percent of support among likely GOP primary voters — up from just 5 percent support a month ago. He has surmounted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was first in the March poll but who slipped to third place in this survey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, remains in second place, with 13 percent of GOP support.

“The youngest member of the GOP presidential posse moves to the front of the pack to challenge Hillary Clinton whose position in her own party appears rock solid,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll.

Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who have also announced their presidential bids, saw smaller jumps in support, and run fourth and fifth, respectively.

Mr. Walker and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson saw the biggest slides from the March poll.

So Rubio appears to have made the most of his 15 minutes, but focusing on the issues in the coming months may be more of a problem for him than for most other candidates.  He has already backtracked on his support for immigration reform (although he now says that the DREAMers should be able to stay in the country), and he has carefully triangulated a position on gays and gay marriage.

Reuters:

The Florida senator's staff have held quarterly meetings with the Log Cabin Republicans "going back some time", their executive director, Gregory Angelo, told Reuters. The meetings with the advocacy group were to discuss legislation, issues and opportunities to "partner on," Angelo said. Rubio's office declined to comment on the meetings.

The discussions highlight the tricky electoral math for Republican presidential aspirants like Rubio.

The Republican party will struggle to win the White House in 2016 if it relies only on the support of socially conservative voters. At the same time, presidential candidates will battle to win their party's nomination without those voters, who often dominate state primaries, or early voting contests.

That tension is starkly apparent on gay marriage. For years, staunch opposition to gay marriage was a reliably safe strategy for Republican candidates. No longer.

Facing an electorate that has sharply altered its views on the issue since the turn of the century, even Rubio, who has long opposed gay marriage, has softened his rhetoric, saying last week that he would attend a gay wedding of a loved one.

And then in an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday he said he believed "that sexual preference is something that people are born with" and is not a choice for most people.

While those kinds of comments might help win votes in the general election if he becomes the Republican nominee, they have the potential to antagonize the conservative Republican base he needs to win the primary, party activists said.

Rubio's strategy appears to be to target less ideological voters in the primaries and let the strong conservatives split the socon vote.  He figures there are a lot more of the former than the latter, and besides, there are a lot of big donors who are trying to recreate the image of Republicans as being more tolerant. 

It's a viable strategy, but one fraught with pitfalls.  He can't afford to anger socially conservative Republicans to the point that they actively oppose him.  And while social conservatives are not a monolithic bloc, he can't afford to turn his back on a significant percentage of the primary electorate, either.

Keeping in touch with the base while eschewing some of their beliefs is a balancing act worthy of a Wallenda.  If Rubio can pull it off, he will be competitive with those candidates who will probably raise more money and have better national name recognition.