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Florida voters prefer Hillary Clinton to hometown favorites in new poll

The sunshine state loves Hillary Clinton, even more than two of their native sons.

The sunshine state loves Hillary Clinton, even more than two of their native sons.

That's the takeaway from a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday morning showing that Clinton has a double-digit lead over former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio. Mrs. Clinton leads Rubio 52% to 41% and bests Bush by a 51% to 40% margin in a poll of registered voters.

Clinton's favorable rating is far higher than Bush or Rubio, at 62%, she's 12 points ahead of Bush and 21 points above Rubio.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell isn't surprised by the news. "I think it's because they both waffled on immigration," he said on PoliticsNation Thursday. "And it's also part of this gun stuff and part of the whole negativity of the Republican party."

Clinton's also buoyed by her positive appeal with independents (57% favorable vs. only 35% unfavorable) and popularity with women too -- whole two thirds of Florida women have a favorable view of her.

Political writer Susan Milligan thinks Clinton's impressive performance as Secretary of State helped increase her popularity. "She has just grown tremendously as a candidate," she said. "Unlike other failed presidential candidates, she didn't retreat. She actually grew even more."

She added, "I think she's impressed a lot of people including Republicans, and I think she's a much stronger candidate in 2016 than she was in 2008."

That's certainly how it appears today, although politicians typically enjoy higher approval ratings after a period of service than they do as candidates, so these numbers may change as 2016 approaches.

Rendell is confident that a Clinton candidacy could effectively destroy any Republican candidate given the current state of the party, arguing that the recent rebranding efforts are all talk and no substance. "Unless they change their policies, they're not going to be able to relate to the voters they need to be successful."

"They've got to take logical positions on issues," he said. "Until they do that... all the studies are meaningless."