Q-pollster: Rubio "on the way to getting the last laugh" in Florida

Republicans in Florida spent weeks trying to convince Marco Rubio to change his mind and run for re-election to the Senate. A new Quinnipiac poll shows that they knew what they were talking about. Rubio’s entry into the race has put both Democrats behind by double digits — and that’s hardly the only good news for the GOP’s hopes to retain control of the Senate. But the biggest takeaway, as pollster Peter Brown states, is that Rubio “may be on the way to getting the last laugh” on Democrats:

Republican incumbent senators have solid leads over Democratic challengers in the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.

Noteworthy is Ohio where former Gov. Ted Strickland, who had an early lead but now trails Sen. Rob Portman by 7 percentage points, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.

The U.S. Senate matchups show:

  • Florida – Sen. Marco Rubio over U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy 50 – 37 percent, and Rubio leading U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, another possible Democratic challenger 50 – 38 percent;
  • Ohio – Sen. Rob Portman over former Gov. Ted Strickland 47 – 40 percent;
  • Pennsylvania – Sen. Pat Toomey over Democrat Katie McGinty 49 – 39 percent.

Democrats had counted on the ability to flip all three seats in their quest to win back control of the upper chamber. They have other potential pickups — Kelly Ayotte’s seat in New Hampshire and Mark Kirk’s in Illinois, for instance, and the open seat in Indiana — but they need to win five of the 23 Republican seats up in this cycle. Without these three, the options for winning control narrow considerably.

This comes from the same samples as yesterday’s release in the presidential race, which showed Trump rebounding in Florida but largely staying static in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Quinnipiac wasn’t tracking Rubio before the previous poll on June 22 for obvious reasons, but it’s possible that Rubio’s arrival might be boosting Trump, or Trump may be boosting Rubio. The difference in amplitude between the two races (Trump only went up three points to 42%) suggests that voters aren’t tying the two races together at all. There’s no doubt that Rubio’s coming to the rescue, either; the other Republican running in the primary, Carlos Beruff, never gets to 40% against either Patrick Murphy or even the egregious Alan Grayson.

The lack of coattails seems even more evident in the other two races. Trump only managed to stay tied with Hillary Clinton at 41%, but Portman picked up five points in three weeks while Strickland slid two points. Strickland’s unfavorable rating has jumped by eleven points in the last two polling cycles there, too, and at 42% is the highest unfavorable rating he’s had in eight years of Q-polls. Democrats look like they’re in real trouble in this race if those trends hold.

In Pennsylvania, Trump gained two points since the 6/22 poll to pick up a narrow 43/42 lead in yesterday’s release. Toomey’s numbers didn’t jump much in this poll as in the previous poll, while McGinty’s have slid by five points over that eight-week period. That puts the race back to where it was in April, when Toomey had a nine-point lead at 47/38.

Trump’s campaign may start impacting down-ballot races in one direction or another, but at least thus far, that day has not yet come. And Republicans have to breathe a sigh of relief in Florida, and pat themselves on the back for pushing Rubio hard enough to rescue that seat from what looked to be a very difficult hold.