TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NSF) - As Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy square off Tuesday for a U.S. Senate seat, independents and minority voters could be two groups to watch.
That was a takeaway from a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday that showed Rubio opening a six-point lead over Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, in the high-stakes race.
Overall, the poll showed Rubio leading by a margin of 50 percent to 44 percent. But among independents, he was ahead 54 percent to 38 percent.
"Candidates with a 16-point lead among independent voters rarely lose, and Sen. Rubio, who has that edge over U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, appears to be pulling away from the challenger," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in comments released with the poll results. "But anything is possible."
Murphy is doing substantially worse than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton among independent voters. In a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, Clinton trailed GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump among independents in Florida --- but only by six points instead of 16.
Quinnipiac gave Clinton a one-point overall lead against Trump in the state, though that is well within the poll's margin of error.
Another area where Murphy's support lags Clinton's performance is among "non-white" poll respondents, a critical group for the Democrats in Florida. Clinton held a 51-point lead over Trump among non-white voters, while Murphy led Rubio by a slimmer 22-point margin.
The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac, which frequently conducts polls in Florida and other swing states, surveyed 626 likely Florida voters from Oct. 27 to Monday. The poll has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points. A CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday showed Rubio with a much-narrower one point lead over Murphy.
Information provided by The News Service of Florida.