Poll finds tight race for 2016 GOP nomination

The national poll from Quinnipiac University released on Wednesday shows that GOP voters would also prefer a candidate with gubernatorial experience over a senator.

The survey finds that 19 percent of GOP and Republican-leaning voters would back Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioEXCLUSIVE: Pro-Hillary group takes 0K in banned donations Poll: Rubio, Murphy neck-and-neck in Florida Senate race Overnight Healthcare: Blame game over Zika funding MORE (Fla.). Close behind Rubio are Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanA 100-day challenge for tax reform Coal’s clout in Congress to take a hit Overnight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal MORE (Wis.) at 17 percent support, Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump hires Rand Paul's former digital director: report Trump flexes new digital muscle Republicans question Trump's trip to Scotland MORE (Ky.) with 15 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 14 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush receives 10 percent support, with other contenders failing to reach 3 percent. 

“Three years before the nominating process, the Republicans have no clear favorite,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Peter A. Brown in a statement announcing the poll results.

GOP voters say they prefer someone with experience as a governor over a senator by a 59 to 23 percent split.

“History indicates that Republicans who win the White House tend to be former governors and there are several thinking about running for the White House in 2016," Brown added. "New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is obviously the best known at this point, and Jeb Bush makes the top five, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell barely register in this survey."

Looking toward the 2014 congressional races, the poll also finds the GOP at a disadvantage, with higher negative numbers than Democrats.

Voters disapproved of the performance of GOP lawmakers with a 19 to 71 negative job approval, while Democrats held a 34 percent negative, 59 positive rating.

“The Republican brand is essentially in the toilet these days, but it's worth remembering the Democrats faced a similar situation in the late 1980s and got their house in order and returned to power in short order,” Brown said.

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted from March 26 to April 1 and has a 2-point margin of error.

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