Clinton finds serious Florida challenge from Jeb

If the 2016 presidential election were held today, Floridians would be ready to give the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

That is, unless Jeb Bush decides to run.

A new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute said that if both Clinton and the former governor end up representing their respective parties in the presidential race, voters in Florida, at least, would be split on whom to choose.

The poll, conducted between Nov. 25 and Dec. 7, gave 43 percent of support to Jeb Bush, while 42 percent picked Clinton.

No other early contenders did too well against the one-time First Lady. Clinton got 50 percent support against Kentucky senator Rand Paul, and 45 percent against New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Clinton hit 51 percent against Texas senator Ted Cruz, and 48 percent against former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Florida senator Marco Rubio held his ground a little better, however, earning 42 percent support among Floridians compared to 46 percent from Clinton.

Bush might be a favorite among Floridians, but at least one expert says it might be difficult for the two-term governor to gain momentum in the national spotlight.

“People perceive Jeb Bush differently in the rest of the country,” said Saint Leo University political instructor Frank Orlando, in a release. “Inside Florida, he’s Jeb. Outside of Florida, he’s George’s brother,” as in George W. Bush.

“Jeb Bush continues to struggle to separate his personality from the former president. However, inside the Sunshine State, he stands for himself. He’s his own man. He’s been the most popular figure in the state for a generation.”

Bush has a tremendous lead in Florida over other potential Republican nominees, carrying 34 percent support compared to 15 percent from Romney, according to the Saint Leo poll. Rubio had 10 percent support, while medical doctor Ben Carson is pulling 8 percent.

If their first choice decided not to run, Bush still lead among second picks with 18 percent, followed by Rubio at 15 percent and Romney at 13 percent.

Among Democrats, it might be impossible to topple Clinton. She has 63 percent support in Florida, with Vice President Joe Biden a distant second at 8 percent.

Biden, however, does lead among second choices with 25 percent, followed by Clinton with 13 percent and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren at 11 percent.

Saint Leo polled 500 Florida adults, including 420 likely voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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