It probably wouldn't have shocked political observers if Sen. Marco Rubio's job approval ratings had taken a hit since becoming the Republican face of comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year.
But the Florida Republican's numbers in his home state are actually close to their best ever, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday, though the senator did get low marks from voters for his handling of both immigration and gun control. Rubio had a job approval rating of 51 percent to 35 percent, the survey of registered voters found.
"A mark of an able politician is one who can keep his support among the electorate even when that politician follows his own path rather than the public's preference on a high-profile issue like immigration or gun control," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University polling Institute, said in a statement.
Rubio's job approval has actually ticked up slightly from 48 percent since Quinnipiac last measured it in March, although his disapproval number also jumped 2 percentage points from 33 percent. The senator clocked his best ever approval number — 54 percent — in May of last year.
But in what has to be an encouraging sign on year later, Rubio is in positive territory with Republicans (84 percent); Independents (50 percent); men (53 percent); women (48 percent); whites (55 percent) and Hispanics (53 percent.) Only Democrats and blacks disapprove of the senator's job performance, giving him a rating of 24 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
Still, Florida voters overall disapprove of the way Rubio is handling "immigration issues," delivering a negative mark of 33 percent to 41 percent. And by an underwater margin of 49 percent to 10 percent, voters said they were more inclined to view the Republican "unfavorably" than "favorably" for his vote against expanding background checks for gun purchases.
Quinnipiac polled 1,176 registered voters, June 11-16. The survey had an error margin of 2.9 percentage points. Some other findings of note:
•President Obama's job approval rating was slightly negative, at 47 percent to 48 percent.
•Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has a positive approval rating of 51 percent.
•Republicans approve of the way Rubio is handling immigration issues, 52 percent to 24 percent; Democrats disapprove 19 percent to 55 percent. Independents also disapprove, 32 percent to 38 percent.
•If the presidential election were held today, Rubio would beat Vice President Joe Biden 45 percent to 43 percent, but lose to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 53 percent to 41 percent.