Marco Rubio leads Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by four points, according to a Bay News 9 / News 13 Florida Decides exclusive statewide poll.
Out of 1,251 likely November voters, 45 percent favored the Republican incumbent U.S. senator, while 41 percent preferred Murphy, who is currently the U.S. congressional representative of the 18th District. The margin of error on the poll was +/- 2.3 percent.
“I really like Marco Rubio,” said Linda Updike, one of the poll respondents. Updike said that she met Rubio years ago at a luncheon and the memory stuck with her. “I was very impressed with the fact that he didn’t dance round. He answered the questions directly,” she said.
The poll was broken down into various categories, such as gender, age, race, party affiliation and the issues, among other things.
Following a failed presidential bid, Rubio entered the Senate race back in June. He now has a strong 13-point lead among seniors. But Murphy is receiving support from younger voters.
"You decided to run for the Senate after this Pulse nightclub shooting, when you've been one of the most anti-gay senators in the country,” said Murphy.
"Congressman Murphy hasn't once broken with the nominee of his party, when she's been caught doing all these things,” countered Rubio.
Demetrius Smith, a political science professor at three area colleges, says results could tip the balance of power.
"If Patrick Murphy was to win, the Democrats have a chance of regaining the Senate," he said, noting that Murphy has a long way to go before the general election. "Patrick Murphy has to do everything he can. Marco Rubio has everything going for him because of name recognition."
Rubio is leading among Cuban, Hispanic and white voters, while Murphy is doing favorably among black and Asian voters.