Donald Trump has surged nearly 12 points in the last two months and is closing on half of the GOP vote in Florida, where Hillary Clinton has improved in all head-to-head matchups against GOP frontrunners, according to a new poll by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI).
The survey began Jan. 15, the day after the latest GOP debate, and concluded Jan. 18, the day following the most recent Democratic debate.
Trump leads the GOP field in Florida with 47.6 percent; followed by Ted Cruz at 16.3 percent; Marco Rubio at 11.1 percent; and Jeb Bush at 9.5 percent. Ben Carson fell from third to fifth as his support dropped from 14.5 percent in November 2015 to just 3.3 percent in this latest poll. Cruz gained more than six points from the November 2015 poll, while Rubio lost more than seven points, and Bush gained six-tenths of a point.
With his support growing in each of the polls BEPI has conducted since September 2015, Trump has clearly seized momentum in Florida, where he enjoys a 70 percent favorability rating among GOP voters.
"At this point, Donald Trump is simply crushing the opposition in the Florida Republican primary," said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative. "Not only has he increased his lead, Mr. Trump's favorability ratings among Republicans are now ahead of his competitors by a substantial margin."
On the Democratic side, Clinton has strengthened her position in head-to-head matchups with the GOP frontrunners. Clinton has turned a three-point deficit against Cruz in November into a five-point lead, while pulling even with Rubio after trailing him by seven points two months earlier. Clinton also closed the gap on Trump by six points and now trails the GOP frontrunner 47 to 44.3 percent. However, Bush leads Clinton in Florida 45 to 41.5 percent.
Clinton also maintains a 36-point lead over Bernie Sanders (62.2 to 25.9 percent), despite losing seven points from her 43-point margin in November.
"Clinton continues to hold a solid lead on the Democratic side in Florida," said Monica Escaleras, Ph.D., director of the BEPI. "She's also performing much better against all the GOP frontrunners, including Trump."
The public opinion of all the top-tier candidates continues to be universally unfavorable. Among all voters, Clinton and Trump had the best ratio, with each scoring a favorable rating from 42 percent of respondents and an unfavorable rating from 51 percent. Cruz fared worst in this area, with 31 percent of voters giving him a favorable rating and 54 percent an unfavorable rating.
In the race for the U.S. Senate in Florida, Allen Grayson (D) holds a seven-point lead (27 to 20 percent) over U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy (D). On the Republican side, David Jolly holds a 20-point lead over Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Ron DeSantis. Many respondents were undecided, including 45 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans.
The polling sample for the Democratic and the Republican primary consisted of 383 and 386 likely Florida voters, respectively, with a margin of error of +/-4.9 percent. The U.S. Senate primary poll consisted of 371 Democrats and 345 Republican adult registered likely primary voters in Florida, with a margin of error or +/-5.0 and +/-5.2 percent, respectively. The general election sample consisted of 1,008 registered voters with a +/-3 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level.
About FAU BEPI:
The Florida Atlantic University Business and Economic Polling Initiative conducts surveys on business, economic, political and social issues with a focus on Hispanic attitudes and opinions at regional, state and national levels via planned monthly national surveys. The initiative subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research and is a resource for public and private organizations, academic research and media outlets. In addition, the initiative is designed to contribute to the educational mission of the University by providing students with valuable opportunities to enhance their educational experience by designing and carrying out public opinion research.
About Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU's world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU's existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit http://www.