Rubio surges to the front of the GOP pack in two new polls as Hillary Clinton struggles with poor numbers

  • About one in seven Republican voters say they want Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to be president
  • He's the only GOP candidate Hillary Clinton isn't beating in hypothetical head-to-head matchups, reaching a statistical tie with her nationwide
  • Rubio is also the candidate most Americans see as oriented toward the future, not the past
  • Clinton is fighting new corruption allegations and voters have noticed: Fifty-four per cent say she's not 'honest and trustworthy' 

Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio are early frontrunners to become the next president of the United States, according to a well-regarded poll released Thursday.

Rubio, a first-term Florida senator, is favored by 15 per cent of Republicans, a small number but still ahead of everyone else in the deep-benched field.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is in second place with 13 per cent, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 11. No other candidate tops 9 per cent, and 14 per cent of GOP voters remain undecided.

Clinton – a celebrity former secretary of state, first lady and New York senator – who is bidding to become America's first female president, is still head-and-shoulders above her 2016 Democratic party rivals, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.

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I'M NUMBER ONE: Marco Rubio has leapfrogged his Republican competitors since announcing his presidential run this month

I'M NUMBER ONE: Marco Rubio has leapfrogged his Republican competitors since announcing his presidential run this month

LOOKING FOR HER CREDIBILITY: More than half of Americans think Hillary Clinton is not 'honest and trustworthy,' while just 38 per cent believe she is

LOOKING FOR HER CREDIBILITY: More than half of Americans think Hillary Clinton is not 'honest and trustworthy,' while just 38 per cent believe she is

She has the backing of 60 percent of Democrats, according to the survey, with her nearest potential rival, Vice President Joe Biden trailing on 10 percent.

At first blush, that would appear to be superb news for Clinton supporters, who were shocked to lose the party nomination to Barack Obama in 2008.

But Clinton's seemingly unassailable lead has the party faithful worried that a meek primary campaign will leave her far from battled hardened by the time the general election campaign against the Republican nominee begins.

Perhaps more concerning for Clintonites will be Quinnipiac's finding that more than half of all voters polled, 54 per cent, say the 67-year-old is not trustworthy. Just 38 per cent disagree

Republican party operatives have already launched a massive campaign to undercut Clinton's appeal by painting her as out of touch, manipulative and not to be trusted.

The scandals and pseudo-scandals of her husband Bill Clinton's tenure in the White House have been restated, along with allegations about her use of a private email server, her handling of the murder of a US diplomat in Libya and foreign donations to the Clinton family foundation.

Until now, candidate Clinton has mostly brushed off criticism, choosing instead to focus on meeting voters in the first primary states Iowa and New Hampshire.

The fight for the Republican nomination is a much more closely-fought affair. Several candidates from across the party's conservative and religious spectrums are vying for the lead.

Rubio, the youthful but relatively inexperienced son of Cuban immigrants, launched his campaign earlier this month, calling for a new era of American leadership that is not 'stuck in the 20th century.'

FRESH FACE: More Americans see Rubio as a future-oriented candidate than anyone else who's likely to join the White House race

FRESH FACE: More Americans see Rubio as a future-oriented candidate than anyone else who's likely to join the White House race

He was the only Republican candidate to have double-digit support among hardline tea party supporters, evangelicals and party liberals.

He is also the only candidate on the political right to be in a statistical tie with Clinton, judging from the Quinnipiac poll's margin of error.

Clinton leads Rubio nationally, according to that survey, by just 2 percentage points – 45 to 43.

She's up on Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul by 4 points; on Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by 5; and over both Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by 7.

By those measures, Rubio is in the catbird seat. 

'This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenaline into a campaign,' said Quinnipiac's Tim Malloy.

'Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton.'

The poll surveyed 1,353 registered voters nationwide between April 16 and 21.

That timing could also have given Rubio a boost, coming shortly after he launched his presidential campaign amid widespread media coverage.

Bush and Walker have yet to launch their campaigns. But Bush partisans will see as much bad news as good in Thursday's numbers.

The Bush family scion tops Quinnipiac's 'no way' list, with 17 per cent of Republican voters saying they would definitely not support him.

Christie is next on that list with 16 per cent, followed by the 10 per cent who give Paul a definite thumbs-down.

In a separate Fox News poll released Thursday night, Rubio comes out ahead with 13 per cent cupport among Republicans. That's a five-point increase since he formally launched his presidential campaign.

YOU'RE GOING DOWN, OLD MAN: Jeb Bush (right) has been Rubio's political mentor but now trails his pupil in national polls

YOU'RE GOING DOWN, OLD MAN: Jeb Bush (right) has been Rubio's political mentor but now trails his pupil in national polls

He's also head and shoulders above the field on the question of whether voters see him as forward-looking and oriented toward the future.

Half of voters in the Fox poll, 50 per cent, said they see Rubio 'more as a leader of the future' than of the past.

Hillary Clinton's number on that scale was 43 per cent despite her age and decades-long political history.

Rubio is 43 years old. Clinton is 67. If she were to win the White House, only Ronald Reagan will have been older on a president's first Inauguration Day.

Fox found, however, that less than one-fifth of voters – 19 per cent – believe Hillary is too old to work in the Oval Office. 

The same percentage thought Rubio is too young.

The U.S. Constitution set 35 as the minimum age for a president, in the late 18th century when life expectancy in the newly created United States was about 20 years shorter than it is today.

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