Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., now trails four potential Republican presidential primary rivals in a new Iowa poll, after leading the pack earlier this year – a sign his advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform could be harming him with conservative voters, according to a new poll released Thursday.
Hillary Clinton continues to dominate the field for Democrats, but the roster is clearly fluid on the Republican side and no candidate has a commanding lead, with the top five names only separated by 7 percentage points.
The new top GOP potential 2016 candidate is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., with 18 percent support; followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 16 percent; Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., with 15 percent; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 14 percent and Rubio with 11 percent, according to a survey by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, garnered 10 percent; former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., with 6 percent; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had 2 percent and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez had 1 percent, to round out the field for Republicans.
"Paul is leading based on his appeal to the furthest right segment of the GOP," said Tom Jensen, PPP's polling director in a memo accompanying the results. "With 'very conservative' voters he's at 25 percent with no one else polling above 13 percent. Paul is also particularly strong with men and younger voters. Christie has a big advantage with moderates, Bush leads with seniors and Ryan is up with women."
Rubio dropped 5 percent in the polling compared to a similar survey in February. Since that time, he has advocated for a bipartisan immigration reform bill that recently passed the Senate by a wide margin but faces opposition from conservatives in the House who see it as offering amnesty to undocumented immigrants. According to the poll, however, Rubio's favorability has remained static.
On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Vice President Joe Biden 71 percent to 12 percent, a wider margin than in February and with dominant leads over Biden in all demographics. But without Clinton in the race, Biden jumps into the lead, garnering 51 percent support compared to 16 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., 9 percent for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and 6 percent for Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Clinton also leads all Republican opponents in statewide polling, with her closest rival being Christie who trails her 43 percent to 36 percent.
The poll surveyed 668 registered voters from July 5-7 and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.