Floridians continue to flirt with outsiders in the presidential campaign — and that could be bad news for former Gov. Jeb Bush.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Bush falling into fourth place in the Republican presidential contest in Florida, trailing consummate outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson, along with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Establishment favorite Hillary Clinton continues to hold a comfortable primary lead among Florida Democrats, but the poll shows that Vice President Joe Biden — who has not announced whether he will run for president — could be a stronger general-election candidate than Clinton in the critical swing state.
The poll, conducted from Sept. 25 to Monday, showed Trump with support from 28 percent of registered Republicans, followed by Carson at 16 percent, Rubio at 14 percent and Bush at 12 percent. As a point of comparison, a Quinnipiac poll released in April showed Bush at 24 percent and Rubio at 12 percent among Florida Republicans.
“The generally more energized Republican party members, who backed former Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio when they ran for office in the Sunshine State, are deserting the establishment candidates for the outsiders — specifically Trump and Carson,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a prepared statement that accompanied Wednesday’s results.
A populism-fueled surge for Trump and Carson has been well-documented across the country, but Bush and Rubio were long thought to be heavy favorites in Florida. Bush dominated campaigns for governor in 1998 and 2002, while Rubio won an upstart race for U.S. Senate in 2010.
Quinnipiac, which frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states, also released numbers Wednesday that pointed to problems for Bush in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. In both states, he received support from 4 percent of registered Republicans.
On the Democratic side, Clinton received support from 43 percent of registered Florida Democrats, with Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders each at 19 percent. In comparison, Clinton was at 65 percent in an April Quinnipiac poll, while Biden was at 11 percent and Sanders was at 3 percent.
Clinton, the former secretary of state and New York senator, continues to be hobbled by questions about her honesty and trustworthiness, according to the poll. Only 35 percent of Florida voters in the new poll said they thought she was honest and trustworthy, while 59 percent said she was not.
In hypothetical general-election contests, Biden does slightly better than Clinton in races against Republicans. For example, Biden leads Bush by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent in Florida, while Bush and Clinton are virtually deadlocked. Bush got 44 percent in such a match-up, while Clinton received 43 percent.
Quinnipiac polled 1,173 Florida voters, and the overall poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points. The Republican portion of the poll has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points, while the Democratic portion has a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points.