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Poll: Mixed views toward Rubio as he builds public profile

As Marco Rubio works to build his profile nationally, Americans who do have an opinion of the Florida senator have a slightly net-negative toward him.

A Pew Research Center poll released Wednesdayfound that 26 percent of U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of the Florida Republican, versus 29 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of Rubio. Thirty-one percent of the poll’s respondents said they hadn’t heard of Rubio; 15 percent said they couldn’t rate him.

The poll was conducted Feb. 14-17, following Rubio’s nationally-televised response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

The results suggest that Rubio has some work ahead of him to build his profile, and move voters’ opinion of him into net-positive territory, especially if he chooses to pursue the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

In addition to delivering the State of the Union response, Rubio has participated in bipartisan negotiations to craft a comprehensive immigration reform bill. He’s worked in recent weeks to sell that legislation to conservatives in particular. Rubio also took a high-profile, official trip to Israel and Jordan this week.

The poll found that independents held mixed views – 25 percent favorable, 24 percent unfavorable – toward Rubio.

The Florida senator fares much better among Republicans and Americans who agree with the Tea Party.

Forty-nine percent of Republicans say they have a favorable opinion toward Rubio, versus 18 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him; nearly a third of Republicans, 32 percent, could not offer a rating of Rubio in the Pew poll. Those who agree with the Tea Party more broadly favor Rubio, 70 to 7 percent.

The Pew poll has a 3.7 percent margin of error for its total sample of all Americans. The subsample of Republicans has a 7.3 percent margin of error, and the subsample of independents has a 6.6 percent margin of error.