Marco Rubio is probably the most hyped of the 2011 freshman Senate class, to the extent that there's already discussion about him as a possible 2012 Presidential candidate. Our latest Florida poll though suggests that it might be time for everyone to slow down a little bit on that front. Rubio is the most hyped new Senator...and he might be the most overrated too. Here's what we found:
-Rubio is not unusually popular with Florida voters- they're pretty evenly divided in their feelings about him with 43% rating him favorably and 42% unfavorably. He does have an unusual amount of appeal to Democrats, with 25% viewing him positively. But his 28/52 favorability with independents isn't a whole lot better than the 25/56 we found for new Governor Rick Scott, who's pretty universally thought to be highly unpopular.
-When it comes to the 2012 Presidential contest in the state Rubio trails Barack Obama by 8 points, a worse performance than Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich posted in the poll and better only than Sarah Palin. In fairness to Rubio he's not the one pushing himself as a 2012 candidate but it does seem safe to say that if he couldn't pull his own home swing state his chances of winning the other major swing states wouldn't be too good either.
One thing frequently lost because Rubio's margin of victory in the Senate race was so impressive is that he still got less than half of the vote in an electorate that skewed heavily toward the GOP. With the Democratic vote splitting nearly evenly between Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek, Rubio was going to win big pretty much no matter what he did and that didn't require him to be an unusually appealing candidate. Given where the race started it's still somewhat amazing and impressive that Rubio's going into the Senate but folks might want him to serve at least half a Senate term before the White House bid.
Rubio's numbers were part of our 2012 Presidential release last week.