Florida is the land of Ponce De Leon's mythical Fountain of Youth, but the Bush family has found a river of woe there politically, beginning in the year 2000. The state of palm trees and hanging chads did of course yield, after multiple recounts and a U.S. Supreme Court decision, the electoral votes needed to put George W. Bush in the White House. But it was more than a little embarrassing for the House of Bushes, because "W" was expected to win by a comfortable margin in a state his father carried twice and where brother Jeb was governor at the time of Bush v. Gore. Fortunately for Bush and the Republicans, Vice President Al Gore ran a campaign sufficiently inept to lose the "veep's" home state of Tennessee, a state Gore and his father, the late Albert Gore, Sr., had represented in the U.S. Senate for a combined 26 years. Sometimes there really is "no place like home."
Pollsters are the early birds out counting the worms, and at least one survey about potential presidential candidates in 2016 might be a bit discouraging for Jeb Bush (shown on left) and the Republicans who are looking to the heir to the Bush dynasty to save the party from Tea Party favorites such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, Hillary Clinton (shown on right) is preferred by Florida voters over Jeb Bush, 49 percent to 41 percent. Of course, the same survey shows the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state ahead of other likely GOP candidates, as well. In addition to Paul and Cruz, Clinton also outpolls New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, the first-term U.S. senator from Florida. That's not an encouraging sign for Rubio, but it may spell even bigger trouble for Bush, since he was governor of the state for eight years (1999-2007). To be sure, the presidential primaries and caucuses are still nearly two years away, but if Bush were to begin the campaign trailing the likely Democratic nominee in his own state, the GOP establishment might be shopping for another white knight.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, Floridians prefer Clinton to Marco Rubio, the state's junior U.S. senator, by 52 to 40 percent; Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, 55 to 37 percent; Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, 57 to 31 percent; and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 52 to 34 percent. As for possible primary contenders, Clinton appears to be even further ahead of whatever competition may arise from within the Democratic ranks. The poll shows her to be the choice of 64 percent of Florida Democrats, compare to 11 percent for Vice President Joe Biden and six percent for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. No other candidate topped one percent, while 13 percent of the respondents were undecided.
"For a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy in Florida, November 2016 can't get here soon enough," Peter Brown, assistant poll director at Quinnipiac, said in a statement that accompanied the release of the survey. "Not only does she outpoint the entire field of potential Democratic wannabes for the party nomination put together, but her favorability numbers among all voters is near 60 percent."
But it may in fact be that November 2016 — or even January 2016, when Iowa's caucuses and New Hampshire's primaries will likely be held — won't "get here soon enough," for the woman who, at the moment, appears to be the prohibitive favorite to be the Democratic nominee for president. The nominating process has proved hard on frontrunners in the past, most notably in Hillary Clinton's past. Hindsight is not so clear-sighted, after all. A great many people, including some of the talking heads of TV punditry, seem to have forgotten already that then-Senator Clinton was considered all throughout 2006 and 2007 to be the prohibitive favorite for the 2008 nomination. Republicans were talking then, as they are again, about nominating a candidate who "can beat Hillary Clinton." Many assumed that would be former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Clinton-Giuliani match, expected to be the political equivalent of Ali-Frazier, was the fight that primary voters cancelled.
"Hillary Clinton is one of the most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) US political figures on the planet," the Christian Science Monitor noted. "That's why she does well. These early polls reflect simple name recognition as much as they do an actual electoral choice." They also suggest that voters, in Florida as elsewhere, pay more attention to national political news than they do to political issues and personalities in their own state. Only four percent of respondents in the Quinnipiac Poll said they didn't know enough about Hillary Clinton to have either a favorable or unfavorable opinion of her. Nearly three times that many — 11 percent — said that about Jeb Bush, who was recently governor of the state for eight years. (1999-2007).
For a nation connected by television, home is where the remote control channel changer is.