Swing-state voters in Quinnipiac poll: Marco Rubio cares about the problems of people like us

A small but potentially important footnote to the Q-poll that Ed blogged this morning. This data point caught Phil Kerpen’s eye and mine as well, and if you remember the 2012 exit polls, you know why. Here’s what happened when voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania were asked if they thought Rubio cares about the problems of people like them.

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He’s net positive by double digits in all three states, including +23 at home, with plenty of room to grow among the sizable minority that hasn’t formed an opinion yet. That’s … not supposed to happen with a candidate from the party that’s perennially dismissed as “out of touch.” Three years ago, in the weeks after the election, the media seized on two bits of data from the national exit poll to explain why Obama had pulled through. One, of course, was his huge 71/27 advantage among Latinos, although as subsequent analyses showed, even a more respectable performance by Romney among that group wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the election. The other key data point was this:

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Shares your values? Romney. Strong leader? Romney. Vision for the future? Romney. Cares about people like me? ObamaObamaObamaObamaObama. Election winner? Obama. The GOP’s going to do much better next year in that metric, I expect, simply by dint of the enormous wealth and privilege that the Clintons enjoy vis-a-vis Obama, but a Republican who can put a further dent in those numbers by virtue of his own down-to-earth persona has a strong electability argument. Remember when the NYT tried to knock Rubio down back in June by focusing on his “financial struggles”? By the end of this campaign, Team Rubio will be handing out photocopies of that article at his rallies.

By comparison, here are Trump’s numbers on the same question by Quinnipiac:

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Hillary is net negative in all three states too but not quite as much as Trump is. For all the hype he’s gotten as a populist, when push comes to shove, those billions in the bank are still a barrier to voters thinking he cares much about them. Jeb Bush does much better than Trump, the first encouraging poll news for him all this week and no mean feat considering he’s a son of privilege himself, but he has less room to improve than Rubio does:

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Excellent numbers in his home state and respectable ones elsewhere, although his margin is only single digits in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Most people already have an opinion of Jeb too, no doubt because of his last name. By contrast, if you assume that all the “don’t know” respondents in Rubio’s sample will end up splitting evenly on whether he cares about people like them or not, he’d be at 57 percent in Ohio and 58 percent in Pennsylvania — good stuff for a Republican in two famously blue-collar states and further evidence that, as I said months ago when he first jumped in, he’s the safest pick in the field from an electoral standpoint. There’s no way to tell how much of this is being driven by his rhetoric and how much by his identity — the young, middle-class Latino guy is a lot easier to relate to for many Americans than the standard Republican septuagenarian white guy who came from money — but it’s an easy bet that every debate for the rest of the campaign will feature Rubio dutifully reciting the fact that he’s the son of a bartender and that he only finished paying off his student loans a few years ago.