MIAMI (AP) — Florida voters give Sen. Marco Rubio negative marks for his handling of immigration and gun issues in Washington but still hold favorable views of the rising Republican star, a statewide poll released Wednesday shows.
The Quinnipiac University poll finds 41 percent disapprove of Rubio's handling of an immigration overhaul in the Senate that would give an estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally a path to citizenship. The random telephone survey of 1,176 registered voters taken June 11-16 shows 33 percent approve.
Rubio, a tea party favorite and possible GOP presidential candidate, is one of the authors of the far-reaching immigration proposal but has refused to pledge support for the measure without tougher border security provisions and stricter standards for who qualifies for government programs. He also wants immigrants to prove they are proficient in English before receiving permanent legal status.
The poll found that 58 percent of Florida voters back a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
"As perhaps the best-known Hispanic-American in national politics, Sen. Marco Rubio has a tightrope to walk between keeping the folks back home happy and serving as a high-profile symbol for the GOP nationally," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Overall, a slim majority of Florida voters — 51 percent — approve of the job Rubio is doing as the state's junior senator.
On gun issues, 49 percent of voters said they view Rubio less favorably after he voted against a proposal that would have required background checks on people buying firearms at gun shows or online, compared to 10 percent who view him more favorably. Thirty-eight percent said the vote made no difference. An overwhelming majority of voters "strongly" support background checks, including 63 percent of gun owners.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton remains a heavy early favorite among Florida voters in a hypothetical 2016 presidential matchup against either Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush. Republicans are more competitive against Vice President Joe Biden.
The survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, shows Bush beating Biden, 47-43. Rubio is in a statistical tie with the vice president.