A new poll shows Florida voters don’t approve of Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Sen. Marco Rubio’s mixed views on immigration reform are not helping him with Florida voters.

According to the poll, 41 percent of 1,176 registered voters in Florida disapprove of Rubio’s handling of an effort to pass comprehensive immigration in the U.S. Senate, while 33 percent of those surveyed approved.

The Associated Press reports that the random telephone survey was taken June 11 through the 16 — the week Rubio introduced an amendment that would require immigrants to be proficient in English before obtaining permanent residency status.

In that time Rubio, a Republican, also was pushing for tighter border security measures in the bill.  He told various news outlets that he would not support the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform plan — which he helped author — unless tighter border security measures were included.

According to the AP:

The poll [also] found that 58 percent of Florida voters back a path to citizenship for those here illegally.

“As perhaps the best-known Hispanic-American in national politics, Sen. Marco Rubio has a tightrope to walk between keeping the folks back home happy and serving as a high-profile symbol for the GOP nationally,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Overall, a slim majority of Florida voters – 51 percent – approve of the job Rubio is doing as the state’s junior senator.

Rubio was a standout in the GOP at the beginning of this year as he took the lead on immigration reform, which includes a lengthy path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in this country.

However, after taking a beating in the conservative media, Rubio has started to shift to the right on immigration.

Fox News has been unrelenting in blasting immigration reform since it was announced. However, there are expectations that the channel’s ideology might change on this issue.

This week, The New Yorker reported that a “trio of Republicans in the so-called Gang of Eight huddled with leading figures at Fox News Channel on the bipartisan effort in the Senate to reform the nation’s immigration system.” TPM explains:

The story, written by Ryan Lizza, indicated that Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had discussions with “top hosts” at the conservative cable news network, including Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto, all of whom are ” now relatively sympathetic to the Gang’s proposed bill.” It also quotes McCain as saying that News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch and Fox News chairman Roger Ailes are big advocates of immigration reform.

 The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times also reports that Rubio didn’t receive high approval numbers for voting against expanding background checks for gun purchases.

Voters they think less favorably of him because of his opposition to expanded background checks for gun buyers, 49-10 percent.

Florida voters overwhelmingly support background checks, with 73 percent in favor of them, including 63 percent of voters in households with guns.

Despite the low numbers on immigration and guns, Rubio still received a 51-35 percent job approval rating, overall.

However, this approval isn’t enough to win him a presidential election.

According to Politico, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton w0uld win a presidential election in Florida against both Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2016. “If the election were held today, Clinton would top Bush 50 percent to 43 percent, and she would best Rubio 53 percent to 41 percent,” Politico reported of this week’s poll.