Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hillary Tops 70% With Moderates Against Home-Stater Marco Rubio In Recent Florida Poll

The I-4 Corridor, which runs West-to-East across the Florida peninsula, connecting Orlando and Tampa, is one of the most sought after swing-regions within a "swing-state" in the country.

As I wrote yesterday, Public Policy Polling has a new 2016 poll on the perennial swing-state of Florida. But their swing-state status won't look all that "perennial" if Hillary Clinton has anything to say about it. She leads 3 likely 2016 GOP contenders, former VP nominee Paul Ryan (54-41%), ex-Gov. Jeb Bush (53-40%), and Sen. Marco Rubio (56-40%), demolishing them among Independent AND Moderate voters.

Yes, Hillary Clinton leads two reasonably popular HOME-STATE double a state that hasn't seen a presidential candidate win by such a margin since 1988 (and even then, it was a Republican that accomplished the feat).

If PPP's results are actually borne out, Hillary would far outpace her husband's 48-42% victory over Bob Dole in 1996, the highest winning margin of any Democrat in Florida since exit polling became easily available in 1976. She would make Obama's back-to-back 50-49% & 51-48% wins in 2012 & 2008 look like the work of a political amateur. Her margin over the 3 Republicans in Florida looks the most similar to Ronald Reagan's performance in the state in 1980 (which he captured from Jimmy Carter, 56-39%).
To better understand the significance of a potential double-digit Florida win for Hillary, consider the chart below of Florida presidential election results since 1976:

* Unfortunately the Roper Center has a pay-wall in place to access their state-by-state exit polling. CNN and other networks only provide state-level exit polling back to 2004, and select numbers from 1992 & 1996. Thus, the incomplete data re: the moderate vote in Florida through the years.

Where exactly does Hillary's peculiar strength in such a quintessential swing-state stem from? The PPP cross tabs have her winning around 85% of self-identified "liberal voters," pretty close to Obama's numbers in the state against Romney last November. She manages about 20% of the "conservative" vote, also similar to Obama's 2012 margin.

Nothing in particular stands out until you glance at the vote break-down of "moderates." Hillary doesn't just beat the GOP. She wipes the floor with them:
  • She's +47% with moderates in a hypo against Paul Ryan (69-22).
  • She's +30% with moderates in a hypo against Jeb Bush (61-31).
  • She's +48% with moderates in a hypo against Marco Rubio (71-23).

That last bullet has to sting for Florida's new, young Senator, the 2012 RNC primetime speaker, GOP rebutter to Obama's State of the Union speech, and early frontrunner for the 2016 nomination. Not the simple fact that he's losing moderate voters in his home-state to Hillary Clinton - but the fact that he's losing it by SO MUCH! As the far-right column in the chart above indicates, a 3 to 1 lead among moderates in Florida is pretty uncommon, and far exceeds the record set by...of course...Bill Clinton, in 1996.

Hillary Clinton is a pretty popular gal. She sports a 56/37% favorability rating in Florida, and is at 49/42% nationally, per PPP (and much higher according to other pollsters). Five years out of the partisan rancor in Washington has allowed her to enjoy nearly 100% positive coverage from the media, thus the improved image. But what happens once she officially throws her name in the ring? Can she really expect to win near 70% of "moderate" Florida voters? History suggests that's unlikely, especially recent history.

Mitt Romney carried 46% of moderate voters in Florida last November, while Obama carried 53%. Just for fun, what would the PPP 2016 survey result have looked like if they had found Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Paul Ryan performing at least as well with moderates as Romney did in 2012? The shift is more drastic than you might think, especially in the case of Marco Rubio:

The top half of the chart indicates that if Rubio had performed as well with moderates as Romney did last year, he would have only trailed Hillary Clinton 49-48%, a major improvement from the actual 56-40% deficit PPP found. Likewise, if Romney's numbers with moderates in Florida were reweighted to show him losing as badly as Rubio does to Hillary, he would have lost the state by mid-double-digits, not the actual 50-49% margin. The same effect is seen in the top half of the chart below:

Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush both make huge improvements, with Ryan actually managing a TIE in Florida (better than his former running mate in 2012).

The lower half of both of the above charts shows you what the PPP poll would have looked like had their survey sample resembled the ideological identification of the 2012 Florida electorate, AND the vote margin among moderates was reweighted to Obama v. Romney. In November, 35% of Floridians identified their ideology as "conservative," 22% identified it as "liberal," and 43% identified it as "moderate." PPP's sample, however, was 3 pts MORE conservative than 2012 (38%), 11 pts LESS moderate (32%), and 7 points MORE liberal (30%). As you can see in the far right column, the shift from the actual survey result is even more significant, with all 3 Republicans either TIED with or LEADING Hillary Clinton.

I realize that I'm making quite a big leap from the actual PPP findings, especially with re-weighting the survey twice-over. But hey, that's why I started this blog; fiddling around with survey cross tabs to resemble historical results. It's not to say PPP's finding regarding moderates is wrong. It IS to point out that if correct, they would be precedential. Also, to suggest what could happen happen down the road.

I mean, if Mitt Romney did it, why not Rubio? Or Jeb? Or Ryan?

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