Real estate mogul Donald Trump may be the GOP’s frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, but Florida Senator Marco Rubio might be the best candidate to beat Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the general election. Rubio does the best of the GOP field in a potential matchup with Clinton in a new Fox News poll released Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. The Fox News poll continues a trend Rubio seeing momentum in recent polls after winning the last Republican primary debate earlier in the month. Another poll released on Sunday by ABC News and the Washington Post shows a different picture with Trump the most likely to win the 2016 presidential election. Rubio is gaining points as the campaign’s focus shifts from domestic to foreign policy.
According to the new Fox News poll, six of the Republican presidential candidates in the large field could beat Clinton in potential general election matchups, but Rubio would do the best winning over Clinton with an eight point advantage and with a majority of votes, 50 percent to Clinton’s 42 percent.
The entire GOP field’s top tier all beat Clinton. Former GOP frontrunner and Florida Governor Jeb Bush has seen his poll numbers fall to the single digits. Bush has been arguing, he can beat Clinton in the general election, and he has the second largest margin. Bush bests Clinton 45 percent to Clinton’s 39 percent, a margin of six points. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll Bush had one bright spot being named by voters as “having the best experience” to be president. Bush has been having a difficult time translating his experience into primary vote support.
Retired Neurosurgeon Ben Carson beats Clinton by 5 points with 47 percent to Clinton’s 42 percent. Carson was also named by the ABC News/Washington Post poll as the most trusted by voters to handle health care with 35 percent support, and is seen as the most honest overall by 34 percent of voters.
Surprisingly, GOP front Trump is only in fourth place when it comes to the Republican candidate who could win against Clinton. Trump also beats Clinton by five points with 46 to 41 percent. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll Trump is seen as having the “best chance of winning the presidency” by a large margin with 38 percent, followed in the distance by Carson with 22 percent.
Trump is the overwhelming favorite by Republican voters on the top issues including handling terrorism, immigration, tax policy, and “bring[ing] about needed change in Washington,” garnering between 42 to 47 percent support on these issues. As ABC News noted Trump’s “success” is based on “tapping into the broad anti-establishment, anti-immigration — and now anti-refugee — sentiment within the GOP. Despite his sometimes controversial statements — or perhaps because of them — he leads his competitors on key attributes and issues alike.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz who has also been rising in the polls after solid performances in the last two primary debates beats Clinton by a margin of four points in the Fox News poll 45 to 41 percent. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has sat near the bottom of the polls since launching his campaign, also beats Clinton but by a small margin of only three points 46 percent to Clinton 43 percent. Of all the GOP top tier candidates former HP CEO Carly Fiorina does the worse just tying with the runaway Democratic frontrunner with 42 percent each.
Rubio might be the best GOP candidate to beat Clinton, but first he would have to beat Trump. Currently in the Fox News poll, Rubio is moving up tying for third place with Cruz with 14 percent support. Still Carson is in second place with 18 percent support. Rubio is still 14 points behind Trump that has a commanding lead of 28 percent, double Rubio’s numbers. The remaining GOP candidates all poll with three percent support and less including Bush.
The lineup for the primary ABC News/Washington Post poll is similar to the Fox News poll with Trump leading with 32 percent to Carson’s 22 percent. Rubio is in third with 11 percent. Cruz has 8 percent support and Bush rounds out the top five with just 6 percent.
The Paris terror attacks committed by terrorist organization ISIS has been a game changer for the 2016 presidential campaign, making a largely domestic policy focused campaign with the economy and immigration being the top concerns to a foreign policy campaign with national security and refugees becoming the new top issues.
Part of Rubio’s success is that he has emphasized foreign policy long before the terror attacks, touting his experience on the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Intelligence. Rubio welcomes the new focus and while appearing on “Fox News Sunday” on Nov. 22 said, “As far as national security, let me just say, I obviously am not happy about the events that happened last week in Paris. But I think it’s a positive development that it suddenly has forced Americans to confront more carefully the issue of national security, because it is the most important thing a president will do and it’s the most important function of the federal government.”
Rubio’s foreign policy prowess helped him have such strong debate performances. Rubio has made foreign policy and the fight against ISIS and terrorism the subject of his first TV ad entitled “A Civilizational Struggle” Rubio first national TV ad released online on Sunday, Nov. 22 and on TV on Tuesday, Nov. 24 calls terrorism “a civilizational struggle between the values of freedom and liberty, and radical Islamic terror.” The Florida senator invokes the recent terror attacks in Paris saying, “What happened in Paris could happen here. There is no middle ground. These aren’t disgruntled or dis-empowered people. These are radical terrorists who want to kill us, because we let women drive, because we let girls go to school.”
Still in the ABC News/Washington Post poll placed Rubio third with only 11 percent of voters trusting him on handling terrorism, with Trump in the lead with 42 percent and Bush with 18 percent. According to the poll however, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most trusted to deal with terrorism. This represents a reverse where Republicans were the go to party on national security and foreign policy.
Clinton beats the five top Republican candidates on that issue, with Clinton beating Trump by eight points, 50 to 42 percent, Carson by the largest margin, 49 to 40 percent, seven points over Cruz 47 to 40 percent. Rubio is the only GOP candidate that even comes close to Clinton on handling terrorism with only 4 points difference Rubio with 43 percent to Clinton’s 47 percent.