Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders FBN

(Associated Press)

New Poll: Sanders and Rubio Best Bets in 2016 Presidential Race

By Election FOXBusiness

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump may be what Republicans want, but Florida Senator Marco Rubio is what they need to win the 2016 presidential election, according to a national poll from Quinnipiac University released Friday.

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Trump is still the frontrunner in the GOP field with 31% support from Republican voters nationwide. Texas Senator Ted Cruz comes in second place with 22% and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is in third with 19%.

However, in a head-to-head general election matchup, Rubio beats Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton 48% to 41% and ties with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with 43% support.  In a race against Trump, Sanders beats the real estate mogul 49% to 39% and also wins against the Texas senator 46% to 42%.

Rubio and Sanders are the strongest contenders in the general election, but if former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg enters the race, he could be a threat to Sanders. In a hypothetical 3-way election, Sanders gets 35% of the vote, Trump takes 36% and Bloomberg garners 15%. However, Sanders beats Cruz 37% to 36% with Bloomberg at 15%.

In the Democratic race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds 44% support nationwide while Senator Bernie Sanders has 42%, with 11% still undecided. In the December poll, Clinton held a substantial lead with 61% compared to Sanders’ 30%.

"Democrats nationwide are ‘feeling the Bern’ as Sen. Bernie Sanders closes a 31-point gap to tie Secretary Hillary Clinton," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll in a statement.

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When it comes to high favorability ratings, Sanders and Rubio score the highest among American voters. The Vermont senator has 44% while the Florida senator has 42%. On the flip side, Clinton, Trump and Cruz hold the highest unfavorable scores. Clinton’s negative rating is 56%, Trump’s 59% and Cruz’s 42%.

"While Trump, Clinton and Cruz wallow in a negative favorability swamp, by comparison, Rubio and Sanders are rock stars," said Malloy.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,125 registered voters nationwide from February 2 – 4, with a margin of error plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The survey includes 507 Republicans with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points and 484 Democrats with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.