The good news for Rubio fans? He’s just six points back of the new leader, Rand Paul. That’s how open the field is. (And how silly polls two years out from a primary are.)
The bad news? He was at 21-22 percent in PPP’s polls earlier this year, which means he’s lost more than half his support. No wonder he’s wasting no time in making repairs.
Three things to note. One: The only candidate who registers double digits across the spectrum is Jeb Bush, brother of the last Republican president. Presumably that’s more a function of name recognition (as so much early data is) than careful appraisal of his positions. Two: Rand Paul is an also-ran among “very liberal” and “somewhat liberal” Republicans. I … would not have guessed that given his moderation on social issues and his big civil-libertarian drone filibuster. Maybe the liberal-ish GOPers aren’t liberal on “values” but rather on the need to protect the welfare state, in which case, yeah, Rand Paul really is their archenemy. Three: Byron York was right. Cruzmania is real, enough so that he’s now the leader among the “very conservative.” (And yet, oddly, far behind among the “somewhat conservative.”) You can see here too why Cruz poses such a threat to Paul especially. Paul finishes second among the “very conservative”; without Cruz here, he probably leads among that group and would enjoy a bigger lead overall. Rubio, by the way, is now sixth among the “very conservative,” a point behind, er, “someone else.”
But whatever. A new WSJ/NBC poll has his favorable rating at 35/13 among conservatives and 47/15 among tea partiers. He can bounce back on the right. The real test of his immigration push is whether it’s made him more “electable” and one gauge of that is to see whether he’s doing markedly better among Latino voters than his GOP rivals. He’s been the face of immigration reform for Republicans in both English-language and Spanish-language media this year. That’s got to mean something, no? Well, not really:
In fairness to him, that’s slightly better than how the rest of the field fares against Hillary with the exception of Jeb Bush. She leads Jeb 51/34, but again, he has more name recognition than Rubio. Christie trails her among Latinos 56/28, Paul trails 57/26, and Ryan trails 54/25, all right in the ballpark of Rubio’s take. What about a hypothetical match-up with Biden instead? Here you go:
That’s better than how Paul and Ryan do against Biden and equal to what Bush does (trailing 46/32), but Christie actually tops Rubio here by trailing only 44/32. There’s a potential lesson there: Since Latino voters in the aggregate trend liberal and Democratic, they might be more likely to gravitate towards a moderate Republican with a short record on immigration like Christie than an otherwise conservative Republican with a big amnesty push to his credit like Rubio. Emphasis on “might,” though: Who knows what happens to these numbers after their respective name recognition moves up to the 90 percent mark in a heated primary.
As a gloss on all this, have a look at the graph that John Sexton posted yesterday about who the most electable Republican in the field is (right now, at least.) Second look at gun control?