Backed by growing support from independent voters, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has opened a seven-point lead over Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University.
The poll of 601 likely voters, surveyed Aug. 31 to Wednesday, shows Rubio holding a 50 percent to 43 percent lead.
Rubio and Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, both easily won their primaries Aug. 30. A poll released Aug. 11 by the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac showed Rubio leading Murphy by a margin of 48 percent to 45 percent.
After failing to win the Republican presidential nomination this year, Rubio decided in June to seek a second term in the Senate.
“Democrats hoped they could use Sen. Marco Rubio’s change of heart on running for re-election against him, but so far the former presidential candidate has been able to keep a narrow lead,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a statement Friday. “Without Rubio’s double-digit lead among independent voters, he would be in much more trouble.”
While both candidates have largely locked down voters in their own parties, Rubio is up 53-37 percent among independents.
In the August poll, Rubio held a 10-percentage point advantage among likely voters without party affiliation.
The latest poll shows that racial and gender gaps apparent in this year’s presidential race are taking hold in the Senate contest.
Rubio holds a 55-35 percent advantage among men and a 56-37 percent lead with white voters. Murphy is up 51-45 percent among women and 56-38 percent among non-white voters.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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