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Fresh Gallup poll puts Marco Rubio best among top-tier GOP hopefuls

According to a new poll taken just as the story about her private email account was breaking, Hillary Clinton remains one of the few 2016 presidential candidates to have a significantly higher favorable (50%) than unfavorable (39%) rating among the American public. And 89%have enough knowledge of her to form an opinion, by far the most of anyone contemplating a run for the White House next year.

It should be noted that the Gallup Poll was conducted between March 2 and 4. The New York Times story revealing the private email account Clinton used to conduct business while secretary of state broke March 3. It gained traction leading up to her news conference addressing the issue Wednesday, eight days later. So, reader beware.

Though the Gallup survey highlights Clinton because of her combination of favorable ratings and public awareness, her 11-point discrepancy of favorable to unfavorable ratings is not the largest spread in the survey.

The candidate with the biggest spread of positive to negative ratings is Ben Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon now living in West Palm Beach. The survey found 20%  of those questioned had a positive view of Carson, only 8% a negative view. Only 28% of the public, though, is aware of who he is.

The next candidate with the highest favorable to unfavorable ranking is Marco Rubio, who has a 26% to 21% approval rating. Of those polled, 47% say they know Rubio, ranking below five other Republicans in terms of public awareness.

The Republican with the highest recognition factor is Jeb Bush, who has a 68% familiarity ranking, ranking behind only Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. Bush’s rating is a relatively average 35% favorable, 33% unfavorable.

The public is divided about Biden, literally. His favorable to unfavorable ranking is tied at 39%.

The biggest losers in this poll are Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, both of whom have an upside down favorable ranking of -7%.

Of those surveyed 25% a positive approval of the former Texas governor, and 32%t unfavorable. With Santorum, the numbers are 20% favorable, 27% unfavorable.

In addition to Clinton and Biden, the other Democrats listed in the poll are Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb, but surprisingly, not former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

In the poll, 41% said they’ve heard of Warren, but her positive to negative ratings are only 22% to 19%. That’s far better than Sanders or Webb, who barely register with the public. Only 24% of those surveyed have heard of the current Vermont U.S. senator and former Virginia U.S. Senator respectively, and the public isn’t that impressed by either. Sanders has a 12% to 12% favorable to unfavorable rating, Webb 11% to 13% percent ranking.

Gallup conducted a similar analysis of the images of potential 2016 presidential candidates this past July. Since that time, Perry, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie have moved from net positive favorable ratings to net negatives, while Bush has moved in the other direction.

Then, as now, Clinton is the best-known potential candidate of those rated, but her favorability rating has dropped. Last summer, 55%t of Americans had a favorable opinion of her and 36% an unfavorable opinion, a gap of 19 points, as opposed to the current +11 score.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 2-4 on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,522 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at

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