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Momentum: Rubio Vaults to Top of GOP Field, Virtually Tied With Clinton in Q-Poll

The initial Rubio boomlet is still blossoming, according to a fresh national poll. We declared his presidential rollout a success and referenced his rising fortunes earlier in the week, and now Quinnipiac is out with a new nationwide survey that contains more good news for Team Marco:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wins the support of 15 percent of Republican primary voters and runs best against Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today. The former secretary of state tops the Democratic field with 60 percent and leads top Republican contenders, except Sen. Rubio, in head-to-head matchups, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. The Republican primary field shows Rubio with 15 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 13 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 11 percent. No other candidate tops 9 percent and 14 percent remain undecided. Bush tops the "no way" list as 17 percent of Republican voters say they would definitely not support him. New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is next with 16 percent who give him a definite thumbs down, with 10 percent for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Dive into the internals, and you'll find Rubio running basically even (43/45) with Mrs. Clinton in a hypothetical general election match-up, with the presumptive Democratic nominee sitting several points below the 50 percent support mark. In fact, the poll shows Hillary failing to pull away from any of her potential Republican rivals, though she's slightly better positioned against other potential opponents:

45 - 40 percent over Christie; (-5)
46 - 42 percent over Paul; (-4)
47 - 42 percent over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (-5);
46 - 39 percent over Bush; (-7)
46 - 41 percent over Walker (-5);
48 - 41 percent over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. (-7)

The only Republican who fails to crack 40 against HRC in this survey is the one with the most famous last name and the biggest campaign war chest.  The Q-poll also finds Hillary's personal favorability rating slightly underwater (46/47) and a 16-point majority saying that she is not honest and trustworthy (38/54), with voters supporting a Congressional investigation into her emails by a ten-point margin.  She scores well on leadership qualities, but appears to have a "caring" problem: Voters are evenly split (47/47) on whether Hillary "cares about their needs and problems."  Barack Obama rode a huge empathy gap to victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. It's also worth noting that this survey was in the field prior to any of this breaking, obviously. While the Rubio campaign must be quite pleased with these results, there may be trouble brewing on accusations immigration doublespeak and selective pandering:

It isn’t only committed Rubio donors who are swooning after hearing the candidate’s immigration spiel. During a press call in February with other pro-immigration figures in GOP fundraising, California-based fast food CEO Andrew Puzder said that regardless of whatever public murkiness might surround the senator’s position, Rubio had personally assured him he was still dedicated to the cause. “I actually have spoken with Sen. Rubio on the issue and he has not backed away from wanting immigration reform at all,” Puzder said. “He does think it’s very difficult to do it unless you address illegal immigration first so there may be a step process to doing this. But he’s still a very strong advocate for getting immigration reform that’s effective and helps people, and he’s one of the leaders in our party on this issue.”…[E]very source interviewed said that no matter how radioactive Rubio’s immigration record might be to the right, it has done nothing but help him in this early stage of the primaries, when filling the campaign war chest is the chief concern. Two Republican fundraisers who have met with Rubio — requesting anonymity to candidly assess his efforts — even expressed surprise at how enthusiastic the candidate has seemed in private to promote his work on the Senate’s immigration bill, given his strong reluctance to do so in public.

Is Rubio giving different immigration pitches to different audiences?  No way, an aide says:  “Marco gives the same speech with donors that he does in public. He doesn’t focus on immigration, but it almost always comes up in the Q&A in both public and private settings.”  Perhaps the apparent disconnect arises from tone and emphasis, rather than duplicity.  He's happy to tout his role as an immigration reformer to woo big donors and maintain a broader appeal to certain constituencies, but he doesn't want to beat that drum with GOP primary voters.  We'll see how the rest of the field hits him on it, especially with guys like Scott Walker tacking to the right on the issue.  I'll leave you with Rubio's light, savvy web video, in case you missed Christine's post on Tuesday:

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