Jeb Bush Gaining on Donald Trump in Florida, According to New Poll

Jeb Bush Gaining on Donald Trump in Florida, According to New Poll
Photo by Michelle Eve Sandberg

Donald Trump continues to lead the GOP in Florida, but a new poll recently released shows Jeb Bush making a sudden and strong comeback, vaulting into second and gaining on "The Donald." According to the latest Jacksonville University poll, Trump gets 24 percent of the vote in Florida, with Jeb getting 17 percent.

The Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Poll was conducted via landline and cell-phone interviews in English and Spanish among a random sample of 585 registered Republican likely voters between September 17 and 22. 

The poll also shows things tightening up behind the two rivals, with Carly Fiorina getting 15.5 percent of the vote, Ben Carson 15 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio also getting 15 percent.

This is in contrast to a Gravis Poll released several weeks ago that showed Trump holding a 33 percent lead in Florida, with Carson coming in with 22 percent and Bush coming in third with 15 percent. Before that, Jeb had come in at 20 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll released back on June 18. But Quinnipiac's August poll showed Bush dropping to 17 percent among Florida's Republican voters, all while Trump began to gain serious momentum, coming from 3 percent to 21 percent among Florida Republicans, which, according to Quinnipiac, reflects the national polling.

Interestingly, the Jacksonville University poll also shows Rubio as viewed the most favorably by Republican voters, with 79.7 percent favorability. Rubio is followed by Carson, who gets a 77 percent favorability, while Bush comes in with 68 percent. Trump, probably not surprisingly, rated only above John Kasich, with 50 percent favorability.

Despite not being well-liked, Trump's leading in the polls is perhaps explained by a Jacksonville University question that asked if people prefer a candidate who has experience working in government or experience working in business. Forty-four percent said business, while only 18 percent said government. Meanwhile, a whopping 68 percent said they don't think it's necessary for a candidate to have held some kind of elected office to become president.

While the trends in this poll show nothing different from recent polls, they do reveal how log-jammed the field is. Even with Trump leading the pack, things are beginning to tighten and become extremely competitive in the all-important state of Florida.

"The conventional wisdom was that former Gov. Bush or Sen. Rubio were a lock to win the Florida primary," Rick Mullaney, director of the JU Public Policy Institute, writes. "This poll, however, shows a much more competitive race in Florida with five candidate polling in double figures."

Mullaney explains that the reason for the tightening is due to candidates like Scott Walker dropping out and the numbers going to candidates other than Trump.

"As candidates drop out and the field narrows, the poll results indicate that these votes will go to other candidates, and not to Trump," he writes.

The margin of error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.   

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