A new Quinnipiac University poll, which shows Marco Rubio performing the best against Hillary Clinton in November, got me thinking. How consistent is this result?
The newest poll, conducted February 2-4, shows Rubio beating Clinton head-to-head 48-41, Ted Cruz tying her 45-45, and Donald Trump losing to Clinton 46-41.
So I went over to RealClearPolitics.com, which lets you look back at all the general election head-to-head polls between Rubio and Hillary, and Cruz and Hillary. (I didn’t bother with Trump vs. Hillary, since he usually does worse than Cruz or Rubio.)
Rubio doesn’t always beat Clinton by his latest large margin, nor, sometimes, does he beat her at all.
But Rubio almost always polls better against Clinton than Cruz does.
Take a look at this compilation of screen shots of the last 20 head-to-head polls listed at RCP for Rubio and Cruz vs. Clinton:
Methodology: I did not include in this list four polls where Rubio was put against Hillary but Cruz was not measured against Hillary (two polls in October and two in August). All of the data you see is unedited.
What jumps out at me from this list is not the RCP average at the top, showing Rubio doing better since January 1.
What really jumps out is that in 19 of these 20 polls, Rubio does better against Hillary than Cruz does against her. The outlier, a Quinnipiac poll from December 16-20, has Rubio performing only one point worse than Cruz.
In other words, it’s not as if sometimes Rubio does better against Clinton, sometimes Cruz does better against her, and Rubio just happens to be winning the average.
Instead, in 19 out of 20 instances since July, Rubio has outperformed Cruz against Hillary. Whether or not the Republican wins, ties, or loses, Rubio is nearly always a better contender.
The sheer consistency is stunning. It’s simply undeniable from these numbers that the general electorate says it will give Rubio more votes than it will give Cruz.
Note that this is a different issue than whether Cruz can beat Hillary. Even if you think he can, the numbers show that in such an election Rubio would beat her, too — and by a larger margin.
Republicans choosing a nominee need to ask themselves whether they are willing to surrender that margin, given that we don’t know how much of a margin Republicans will be scrambling for in November, and that Rubio is, as Rush Limbaugh recently observed, “a legitimate, full-throated conservative” in his own right.
Matt Bowman is an attorney who practices pro-life and constitutional law in Washington, D.C.