Bush v. Clinton could be a barnburner in Florida.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday shows former Gov. Jeb Bush and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a virtual tie in a hypothetical 2016 presidential race in Florida. The poll gave 44 percent to Clinton and 43 percent to Bush.
While presidential primaries and caucuses are still a year away — and the fields of candidates are loaded with speculation — the poll indicates Bush would be the toughest opponent for Clinton in the critical swing state of Florida.
That might not be surprising, as Bush was a popular two-term Republican governor. But the poll also shows the Democrat Clinton leading another native son, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, by a margin of 49 percent to 39 percent in Florida.
Quinnipiac polled voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which are all pivotal states in presidential races. Clinton easily topped potential Republican candidates in each of the states, with the exception of Bush in Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Kasich's home state.
"There is a reason why Hillary Clinton has followed a slower, less aggressive schedule when it comes to ramping up her expected presidential campaign than have virtually all of her potential White House opponents," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a prepared statement accompanying the results. "She holds double-digit leads over all her potential GOP opponents in the three biggest swing states, except for two native sons, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. And she is under little pressure from within her own party to hit the campaign trail."
A Bush-Clinton race in Florida would draw tens of millions of dollars, countless stories about political dynasties and memories of the 2000 Bush v. Gore presidential recount. That recount, of course, pitted George W. Bush, the brother of Jeb Bush, and Al Gore, the vice president under former President Bill Clinton.
But if Jeb Bush is derailed from getting the Republican nomination next year, the poll indicates other GOP candidates could have a difficult time beating Hillary Clinton in Florida. Along with the sizable margin in a hypothetical race against Rubio, Clinton also led by double digits in match-ups against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac, which frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states, surveyed 936 Florida voters from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1.