Pollster Frank Luntz Says Marco Rubio Is Most Likely to Get GOP Nod

Pollster Frank Luntz was the keynote speaker at the Georgia GOP Fall Banquet. Photo: Jon Richards
Pollster Frank Luntz was the keynote speaker at the Georgia GOP Fall Banquet. Photo: Jon Richards
Speaking to an audience of around 300 people at an Atlanta fundraiser for the Georgia Republican Party, pollster Frank Luntz said that the thinks Florida’s Marco Rubio has the best shot at winning the Republican presidential primary. That’s a change from late August, when Luntz told a gathering of the Georgia Chamber that Donald Trump might be impossible to take down.

Yet, Luntz spent plenty of time in his talk discussing the leading Republican candidate, first showing a “best of” video of Donald Trump insulting the other Republican in the race, and following up with another video showing many of the insults Trump directed towards women. He made the point that the way candidates (and by extension the party) treat people matters in a presidential campaign, and that Trump’s misogynistic remarks were probably costing the GOP ten points in the polls.

When asked why Donald Trump continued to rank highly with primary voters, Luntz pointed to the intense dislike voters have with politicians in Washington. As a result, Trump becomes the favorite of those most opposed to DC because he is least like what they see there. The way to combat Trump, Luntz said, was to have the other candidates be less formal, to get off of their podiums, and lose their talking points.

Luntz talked about more than the Republican races. For the Democratic presidential primary, the candidate he fears most is Hillary Clinton. He played a video showing a series of quotes used by former president Bill Clinton in this campaigns, followed by Hillary using almost the exact same wording in her campaign; wording that focus group participants using Luntz’s trademark approval / disapproval meter liked very much. Luntz stressed that if Republicans used anger against Hillary, the effort would likely backfire. Instead, he said the GOP should express disappointment and regret about her activities while Secretary of State if they want to convince those on the fence to vote Republican.

While Luntz thinks Hillary is the candidate most likely to win the Democratic nomination, he pointed to the possibility of a strong campaign by Joe Biden, especially if Vice President Biden could appear side by side with Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Senator that many of the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party wishes would run.

During a question and answer session at the end of his talk, Luntz was asked whether he thought Georgia might turn blue during the 2016 election cycle. Not 2016, he said, but 2020 was a possibility. To prevent that, Luntz pointed to diversity, saying the Georgia GOP had to find voters who were different from those attending the banquet. He lauded the strong values held by Republicans in the Peach State compared to what he saw in the northeast. But, he reminded everyone, Georgia can’t take it for granted that there would always be a Republican governor, Republican Senators and Republican Representatives, even though right now the GOP has those seats in its control.


  1. xdog says:

    I agree with whoever said that supporting Trump is like being in a fan club. He’s the insult comic of candidates and it’s fun and satisfying to hear him patronize others, but at the end of the day there’s an understanding that his efforts are an act.

    Some months ago I suggested Bush/Rubio in Florida might be for all the marbles, but when I read that Jeb! may drag Fredo out of the shadows to juice his campaign in SC, which should be as solid for him as anywhere, when I look at his terrible poll numbers, when I see him on the stump in yet another cringing moment, I think wth happened? I know enough about the Bushes and their fixers to never bet against them but it sure looks like Jeb! could go down and out.

    “GOP should express disappointment and regret about her activities while Secretary of State”
    Sure, they need a kinder, gentler investigative committee. That’s the ticket.

  2. Andrew C. Pope says:

    The same Frank Luntz who was adamant that Romney was going to win? The guy who was on Fox puffing Romney’s chances and criticizing Nate Silver up until Election Day? How’d that prediction work out?

    The GOP needs to find a fresh line of attack on Hilary Clinton. Benghazi failed as a line of attack back in 2012 and it’s going to fail as a line of attack in 2016. Why? Because the GOP has failed to convey why the average American voter should be outraged.

    Is Benghazi a scandal because the Administration blamed it on a YouTube video before coming out and calling it an act of terrorism? Is it a scandal because they had information about possible security threats and didn’t take appropriate measures? Is it a scandal because our Muslim President called his buddies in al-Qaeda and told them to bomb the embassy in order to boost his poll numbers? I’m someone who follows politics and news pretty intensely, even I can’t grasp what the GOP is so mad about. Without a clear articulation of “this is what the Administration did wrong and here’s proof in the form of x, y, and z” everything the GOP does with regards to Benghazi looks like partisan hackery and makes the people who keep yelling “Benghazi” look like 9/11 truthers.

    I don’t think the emails are a feasible line of attack either. There hasn’t been a single damning email among the thousands upon thousands of emails she’s produced. The only real blood they’ve been able to get out of this stone is that she possibly sent classified email to/from her private server. Saying that she was flippant about national security, however, still seems like a stretch. Maybe, juuussst maybe, there’s a smoking gun in the emails that haven’t been produced and the FBI will turn up something. Until then, the email stories just don’t do enough to spark outrage in moderate/Independent voters.

    *Full disclosure: I’m a Democrat that’s not voting for Hillary out of the sincere hope that Biden runs. I would also be supportive of Obama continuing his blatant disregard of the Constitution by running for a third term.

    • blakeage80 says:

      Oh, sure, but I say I want a Theocracy and I get dog piled! 🙂

      P.S. I’m not advocating for one.

  3. northside101 says:

    The renewed focus on Rubio may in part be due to electoral reality (Electoral College), as there isn’t any realistic scenario for a GOP presidential victory without Florida and Ohio, given the Democratic dominance in states like California (55 electoral votes), New York (29) and Illinois (20). Both states have pretty good track records when it comes to supporting the winner; since the 1948 presidential election, Florida has backed the presidential winner every time except 1960 (Nixon over JFK) and 1992 (Bush the first over Clinton). Ohio’s is even better—the winner every time since 1948 except in 1960. Thus the Rubio-Kasich talk, or maybe in reverse. Rubio may be the candidate who can best appeal to both wings of the party—those who don’t want a third Bush presidency, but also those who think a Ted Cruz or Ben Carson is too conservative to get elected.

    • Charlie says:

      electoral reality?


      Don’t you understand that the base is angry? Quit bringing your “facts” to an emotional argument.

      Kidding aside, it is the time of year where leaves and emotional front runners begin to fall, and the cold pragmatic winds of winter begin to signal a shift.

      • Lawton Sack says:

        In all honesty does anybody actually know what the political reality is anymore? I still think that Trump is out by March, but who really knows? I know “hard-line” Democrats that are thinking about crossing over to the GOP Primary to vote for Trump, not because they think he is the weaker candidate, but because they actually like him (which should tell you something).

      • saltycracker says:

        It’s like college dating, there are those we really liked to go out with and those we’d want to marry. Rubio needs to be patient.

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