After launching his bid for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is moving up in the national polls though his campaign team is cautioning supporters about his momentum.
The Rubio campaign tampered down expectations after Quinnipiac University released a poll on Thursday showing the Florida Republican atop the GOP field and running closest against former U.S .Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination.
Rubio takes 15 percent of Republicans, with former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., in second with 13 percent followed by Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., with 11 percent. No other Republican breaks into double digits.
The poll also has Clinton ahead of Rubio but the Republican running within the margin of error. Clinton leads 45 percent to 43 percent. The next closest Republican is U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at 4 percent behind Clinton. Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, do the worst against Clinton, losing by 7 percent each.
Qunnipiac also looked to see what voters of all political affiliations think of the various candidates. Rubio was the only presidential contender who was securely above water, with 35 percent seeing him as favorable while 25 percent view him as unfavorable. Walker was also on the right side with 24 percent of voters seeing him as favorable, 21 percent in an unfavorable light, while 54 percent do not know enough about him to have an opinion.
Paul and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., trod water with each Republican being seen as favorable by 33 percent and the same percentage seeing them as unfavorable. Clinton was far better known but also slightly upside down, with 46 percent viewing her as favorable while 47 percent see her in an unfavorable light. But other Republicans did far worse in the poll and both Bush and Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., had unfavorable percentages 13 percent above their favorable ones.
Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, insisted Rubio had much to celebrate in the poll.
"The youngest member of the GOP presidential posse moves to the front of the pack to challenge Hillary Clinton whose position in her own party appears rock solid," Malloy said on Thursday. "This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenalin into a campaign. Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton."
The poll of 1,353 registered voters across the nation was taken from April 16-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent. This included a survey of 567 Republicans across the nation with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.
Despite doing well in the Quinnipiac poll and other national surveys, including a CNN/ORC International poll released on Monday which finds Rubio moving up to tie Paul for third, Rubios team cautioned supporters not to read too much into the numbers.
Polls 10 months before the election dont matter, Terry Sullivan, Rubios campaign manger, wrote in an email to supporters sent out on Thursday night. Marcos candidacy isnt about polls Marcos candidacy is about his message and his vision for a New American Century.
Sullivan added the polls did show a positive response to his candidates ideas. Clearly, Marcos message is exciting voters, Sullivan wrote before once again urging caution. As I remind our team every day: this is a marathon, not a sprint. Weve got a lot of work to do and a long way until voters start weighing in.
Our job on the campaign is simple: We have to get Marco and his positive, optimistic message in front of as many voters as we possibly can, as often as we can, Sullivan added. Thats what matters. If we do that, then well win.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN