Sen. Marco Rubio has emerged as the strongest candidate in the GOP presidential field, topping the rest of his announced and potential rivals for the nomination and running best against top Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll Thursday.
Mrs. Clinton still leads Mr. Rubio in a national head-to-head match-up, 45 percent to 43 percent, but the 2-point margin is down from the 5-point lead she held over him a month ago in the same survey.
Mr. Rubio announced his candidacy earlier this month and has shot to the top of the GOP field nationally, garnering 15 percent of support among likely GOP primary voters — up from just 5 percent support a month ago. He has surmounted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was first in the March poll but who slipped to third place in this survey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, remains in second place, with 13 percent of GOP support.
“The youngest member of the GOP presidential posse moves to the front of the pack to challenge Hillary Clinton whose position in her own party appears rock solid,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll.
Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who have also announced their presidential bids, saw smaller jumps in support, and run fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mr. Walker and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson saw the biggest slides from the March poll.
For her part Mrs. Clinton, who announced her campaign last week, remains in control of the Democratic race with 60 percent support of likely primary voters. Vice President Joseph R. Biden trails well behind at 10 percent, followed by Sen. Bernard Sanders, an independent who has pondered running as a Democrat. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Sen. Jim Webb run far behind at 3 percent and 1 percent respectively.
Mrs. Clinton’s 60 percent support in a primary is her highest level in more than a year, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
But for the general electorate, she’s beginning to wear a little thin. For the first time in years, she’s viewed unfavorably by more voters compared to those with a favorable opinion of her, 47-46.
Worse yet, 54 percent of voters said Mrs. Clinton is not “honest and trustworthy,” compared to just 38 percent who said she was. A tremendous gender gap exists on that question, with 61 percent of men rating her untrustworthy, compared to just 47 percent of women who said so.
Voters do view Mrs. Clinton as a strong leader, however, with 62 percent saying she has “leadership qualities.”
Mrs. Clinton has faced questions over the past couple of months about her time as secretary of state, when she refused to use a department-issued email, and instead conducted government business from an account and server she set up herself at home.
She has insisted she followed the rules in place at the time and nearly two years after she left office, under pressure from Congress and the Obama administration, she finally turned over about 30,000 messages her lawyers determined were government property.
But most voters told the pollsters that she still has more to answer for, with 59 percent saying “questions remain” about her email use. And 53 percent of voters support a government investigation into her email use — though a majority also believe such an inquiry is politically motivated.