The circle is now complete. When Rubio left Bush, he was but the learner. Now he is the master.
This is the second YouGov poll in three weeks showing the younger guy from Florida with a big, big, big lead over the establishment favorite in a hypothetical head-to-head. If you wondered at the time whether the earlier result was a fluke, wonder no more.
Three weeks ago, YouGov had it 52/25 in Rubio’s favor. But that came with a question mark: Was Rubio’s big lead more a product of his own strength or of Jeb’s weakness? There was no way to test that at the time because YouGov didn’t poll any other Republicans head-to-head against Bush. This time they did. Behold:
Rand’s not quite as strong against Jeb as Rubio is but he still crushes him by 18 points among Republicans. There’s your evidence of “anybody but Bush” sentiment spreading among GOPers — against the most and least hawkish young contenders in the field, Jeb’s an also-ran, even though Republicans prefer experience to new ideas by a 62/27 spread and state governors to congressional legislators by a 47/24 margin. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s destined to lose the primaries: Could be that 25 percent or so of GOP voters are committed establishmentarians who are prepared to stick with the “electable” Jeb through thick and thin, whereas Rand’s and Rubio’s support will splinter among rivals like Scott Walker and Ted Cruz. Imagine a scenario, though, where Jeb consistently finishes second in head-to-head polling against an array of Republican competitors yet still manages to win the nomination simply because the rest of the field is so splintered. That’d be a big party morale booster headed into war against Hillary, huh?
And that’s not the worst news for Bush, arguably. He and Rubio are supposed to be the great Latino hopes in the field, but among all Hispanic registered voters — not just Hispanic Republicans, but the entire demographic — he leads Rand Paul by just two points. Against Rubio, Bush trails among Hispanics 33/17. His key demographic appeal is nowhere in sight here. Rubio, meanwhile, not only leads Jeb among Hispanics but Paul too at 34/18 and Scott Walker at 39/9(!). Those may be the single most important numbers to come from this entire poll given how the GOP’s donor class craves a candidate who can shrink the Latino gap with Hillary.
Now you’re wondering how Rubio and Paul do head-to-head against each other. Pretty much how you’d expect:
It’s a tight race, with men preferring Rand by 10 points and women preferring Rubio by five. There’s an age gap too, with Rand leading by 16 among voters aged 30-44 and Rubio leading by 30(!) among voters 65 or over. Against the entire GOP field (not just head to head), Rand leads with 13 percent among voters aged 18-29 while Rubio leads with 16 percent among voters 65 or over. Rubio’s strength among senior citizens is something I’ve noted before without being able to explain it, but I like this old-wine-in-new-bottles summary from Michael Brendan Dougherty: “He gives them hope that their ideals will outlive the Nixon-Reagan coalition.” Yup. Anyway, we could do worse than a Rubio vs. Paul race. And almost certainly will.