Florida Frost for Jeb, Hillary

Rubio jumps ahead of mentor, Trump still in lead

Sen. Marco Rubio has leapfrogged former Gov. Jeb Bush in the latest Florida poll, rising off a second strong performance in the latest Republican debate.

Donald Trump, a part-time Palm Beach resident, still leads in the state with 31.5 percent of the GOP primary vote, according to the new Florida Atlantic University poll. Rubio is second at 19.2 percent, and Bush is third with 11.3 percent.

The poll’s findings marked a huge change from a February survey by Gravis Insights, which put Bush at 23 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 22, and Rubio at just 11.

“Marco Rubio being that far ahead of Jeb Bush is surprising,” Kevin Wagner, an associate professor of political science at FAU, told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. “Some of the early Florida polling suggested that Bush was in a stronger position.”

In a surprising finding, the poll shows Hillary Clinton losing not only to Rubio, but to Bush and Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon who lives in West Palm Beach. But if Clinton faces Trump, she would lose to the reality TV star by a hair.

In hypothetical elections:

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• Carson 51.7 percent; Clinton 39.5 percent.

• Rubio 50.4 percent; Clinton 42.2 percent.

• Bush 49.1 percent; Clinton 40.9 percent.

• Trump 45.9 percent; Clinton 44.5 percent.

Still, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination remains far ahead of Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 59.5 percent. Biden, who is so far not in the race, has 15.9 percent, and Sanders draws 15.2 percent.

But Clinton’s unfavorable rating un still huge; 53.7 percent of Florida voters view her unfavorably, just 40.7 percent favorably.

Florida is a key swing state in 2016. Both Rubio and Bush, should either win the nomination, would likely perform well in the state

The poll was conducted from Sept. 17-20, after the GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

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