Despite a spate of optimism among Republicans overjoyed about Marco Rubio’s June 22 Senate reelection announcement, recent Democratic polling reveals the Florida senator’s early advantage over Democratic challenger, Representative Patrick Murphy, has evaporated.
A Civis Analytics survey administered among 1,436 likely Florida voters Aug. 9-15 disclosed Murphy clings to a one-point lead over the freshman Republican from Miami.
“Murphy has room to grow among several Democratic leaning groups that should be responsive to communications. He is well positioned to win this seat in the fall,” read a memo from Civis to Senate Majority PAC.
Among Civis’ conclusions is that Rubio is less successful in attracting traditional GOP voters; he is not as popular among Republicans in the past month; his single greatest strength is name recognition; and his overall favorable ratings have dropped nine points since he announced his intent to seek reelection.
This recent polling data comes in the wake of the Koch donor network pulling $586,000 in scheduled television advertisement in mid-August. Announcing the decision to pull funds from Rubio, Koch network spokesman, Jim Davis, declared Rubio’s lead in the Sunshine State allowed funds to be spent elsewhere to defend vulnerable GOP Senate seats.
Once thought unbeatable, a Rubio loss would virtually guarantee the Senate would flip back to Democratic control in January 2017.
GOP-held seats in Illinois and Wisconsin are likely losses; Kelly Ayotte trails Democratic rival Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire; and incumbent senators Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rob Portman in Ohio maintain slim leads.
Open seats in Nevada to replace outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Indiana to succeed retiring Dan Coates are considered toss-ups.
What was once considered a safe seat, may become the most-watched Senate race early on Nov. 8, although public polling shows Rubio with a mid-single digit lead as of mid-August.
[The Hill] [RealClear Politics] [floridapolitics.com]