A new CNN/ORC poll released Thursday found Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (R-Fla.) to be Republicans’ preferred choice for Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, while other handicappers' favorites like Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 MORE (R-Ohio) and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty failed to crack double-digit support.

Twenty-eight percent of Republican voters said they would most like to see Rubio as vice president, the most of any candidate. The next closest contenders were New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE (R-Wis.), who tied with 16 percent of support.

But Portman, Pawlenty, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — considered the front-runners by many vice presidential watchers — all struggled to gain much traction with voters.

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Jindal led the second tier with 8 percent of GOP voters, followed by Portman and McDonnell, tied with 6 percent, and Pawlenty, the pick of just 4 percent of voters.

Rubio's surge is impressive considering the last survey of Republican voters — conducted by Fox News last month — showed the Florida lawmaker pulling just 19 percent of GOP voters. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice topped that list, pulling the support of three in 10 GOP voters.

Her name did not appear in the CNN/ORC poll released Thursday. And “someone else” received only 4 percent of the vote.

In a tell that the Obama campaign is taking a Rubio pick seriously, the campaign’s Florida state director wrote Thursday that Rubio would be a disaster as vice president and encouraged Floridians to share what they know about Rubio with the campaign — “the good, bad and ugly.”
 
On Thursday, Romney told NBC News he wanted his pick to have "a strength of character" and "vision."

"I certainly expect to have a person that has a strength of character, a vision for the country that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country," Romney said. "I happen to believe this is a defining election for America, that we're going to be voting for what kind of America we're going to have."