Politics & Government

Poll: Marco Rubio leads Carlos Beruff by 64 (!) percentage points

Carlos Beruff
Carlos Beruff Bradenton Herald file

Yes, you read that right.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has a whopping, 64-percentage-point lead over Republican primary challenger Carlos Beruff, according to a new poll commissioned for Associated Industries of Florida.

Rubio trounces Beruff 71-7 percent, with 18 percent of voters undecided, the poll found. Fifty-five percent of Rubio supporters are "hard" supporters, while 16 percent are "leaning" toward voting for him.

A similar AIF survey in April found 50 percent of respondents would back Rubio, who was then not running for re-election and held a 42-point margin over his nearest competitor.

Now Rubio is formally a candidate. And Beruff is the only significant rival he's got left. (Two others on the ballot, Ernie Rivera and Dwight Mark Anthony Young, polled at 2 percent each in the latest AIF poll.)

Beruff said he is not worried about polls showing him getting crushed by Rubio in their Aug. 30 primary.

During an interview on NewsRadio 610 WIOD, Beruff was asked by host Fernand R. Amandi about a Bay News 9 poll that shows Rubio with 63 percent of the vote compared to just 11 percent for Beruff. Another 13 percent in the poll were undecided.

“I’ve been an underdog my whole life,” Beruff responded.

Beruff said he is undaunted about by being the only Republican left to take on Rubio head-to-head in the primary.

“It’s sorta fun now to be the only guy left standing,” Beruff said.

Voters also view Rubio far more favorably than Beruff and than presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who won't be on the August ballot, according to the AIF poll. Rubio's favorable-unfavorable numbers are 71-21 percent, compared to Trump's 62-32 percent and Beruff's 11-9 percent.

Rubio's favorability rating is even higher among Hispanics: 83-7 percent, compared to Trumps's 44-46 percent and Beruff's 10-15 percent. That means Trump and Beruff are underwater by a net 2 percent and 5 percent among Hispanics, respectively.

The AIF survey was conducted by TelOpinion Research for Tallahassee-based AIF, a business group that has a strong track record in recent election cycles. The poll of 750 likely voters conducted June 27-28 has an error margin of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

The latest AIF sample includes so-called "surge" voters, the voters who typically don't vote in GOP primaries but nevertheless cast ballots March 15.

"When the dust settled and we were able to analyze the final electorate, we found that voters with little to no history of voting in regular Republican primaries ... made up 1.2 million of 2.3 million Republicans that voted," AIF political chief Ryan Tyson wrote in a memo to the group's members. "This turnout dwarfed the last two regular Republican primaries where 1.2 million and 1 million Republicans showed up for the regular 2012 and 2014 primaries."

The surge voters aren't necessarily new to politics, because they tend to vote in general elections. The Aug. 30 primary is a different beast; AIF asked voters if they intend to vote then.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reporters Mary Ellen Klas and Jeremy Wallace contributed to this story.