Patrick Murphy vs. Marco Rubio: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2016 Florida Senate Race

Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide for the Patrick Murphy vs. Marco Rubio Senate race? One that will give you an accurate, no-spin comparison of the candidates’ positions on key issues? Our Campus Election Engagement Project is a national nonpartisan initiative working to increase student electoral participation. At the request of the schools we work with, we’ve created concise nonpartisan candidate guides for the presidential race, for the importance of the 2016 election on future Supreme Court decisions, and for 20 Senate and Governor’s races, including this Senate race. Our lead researcher spent 19 years as a senior editor at Encyclopedia Britannica, and we invite readers to share this and our other guides as widely as possible

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio. Visit our Nonpartisan Candidate Guides home page to find links to all our other guides, with most available in both online/mobile friendly and printable PDF formats.


Abortion: Should abortion be highly restricted?

Murphy: No

Rubio: Yes, including instances of rape, incest, and Zika virus infection.

Campaign Finance: Do you support the DISCLOSE Act, which requires key funders of political ads to put their names on those ads?

Murphy: Yes. Has co-sponsored DISCLOSE Act legislation.

Rubio: No

Campaign Finance: Support Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations and unions?

Murphy: No

Rubio: Yes

Climate Change: Believe that human activity is the major factor driving climate change?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No. “The climate has always been changing.”[1]

Climate Change: Should government limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No

Contraception: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally?

Murphy: No. Supported DC’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act.

Rubio: Yes. Views as an affirmation of religious freedom.

Economy: Support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No

Financial Regulation: Support the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and increases regulation of Wall Street corporations and financial institutions?

Murphy: Mixed. Doesn’t oppose, but has supported legislation that would eliminate some aspects.

Rubio: No. Wants to repeal and replace.

Gay Marriage: Support gay marriage?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No. Supports overturning same-sex marriage ruling.

Gay Rights: Should transgender individuals have the right to use public bathrooms of their choice?

Murphy: Yes[2]

Rubio: No. Men’s bathrooms are for men & women’s bathrooms are for women.[3]

Gun Control: Support more restrictive gun control legislation?

Murphy: Yes. Expand background checks and bar people on watch lists.

Rubio: No. “Gun laws are not effective.”

Healthcare: Repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?

Murphy: No

Rubio: Yes

Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?

Murphy: No

Rubio: Yes. Also voted against reopening unless Obamacare defunded.[4]

Healthcare: Should Planned Parenthood be eligible to receive public funds for non-abortion health services?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No

Immigration: Support the DREAM Act, which would allow children brought into the country illegally to achieve legal status if meet certain conditions? [5]

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: Supported comparable bill in Florida legislature. More recently has opposed.[6]

Immigration: Should America’s 11 million undocumented residents have an earned path to citizenship?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: Backed bipartisan 2013 bill. Disavowed since then, saying first need to strengthen enforcement.

Iran: Support the US-Iran treaty that limits Iran’s nuclear capability in return for lifting economic sanctions?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No

Iraq: Should the US recommit significant additional ground troops to Iraq to combat the success of ISIS?

Murphy: No. Focus on air strikes, coalitions with allies, targeting ISIS cyber recruiting.

Rubio: Some increase is fine. Also increase air strikes and coalitions to support local forces.

Marijuana: Decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?

Murphy: Voted for related bills like rights of states to choose, access to banking for marijuana businesses, access for veterans.[7]

Rubio: Opposes legalization. Backs federal override of state laws. Might consider low-THC strains for limited medical conditions.[8]

Minimum Wage: Raise the federal minimum wage?

Murphy: Yes. Increase gradually to $15.

Rubio: No

Renewable Energy: Support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No. Opposes prioritizing renewable energy.

Social Security: Support full or partial Social Security privatization?

Murphy: No

Rubio: Yes

Student Debt: Refinance student loans at lower rates, paid for by increasing taxes on high earners?

Murphy: Supports Clinton plan for debt-free college. No stand on this specific approach.

Rubio: Voted against. Supports privately funded income-contingent loan repayment.

Student Financial Aid: Should federal student financial aid, like Pell Grants, be increased?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No. Has voted for budgets that reduce aid. Says problem is increased tuition rates.

Supreme Court: Support the Senate holding hearings to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland?

Murphy: Yes

Rubio: No

Taxes: Increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?

Murphy: Probable yes. Close tax loopholes and have people at top pay “their fair share.” Specifics not clear.

Rubio: No. Proposes tax cuts for both groups plus end taxes on investment income. Pledged to oppose any tax increases.

Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Murphy: No. Restore & expand Voting Rights Act, guarantee early voting, reduce wait times, and eliminate discriminatory voter ID laws.

Rubio: Yes. Supports voter ID, eliminating Sunday early voting, & cutting early voting hours and locations. (Also see notes about supporting 2012 voter purge.)[9]


Other senate candidates include Paul Stanton (L). Due to limited space, we can’t include his positions, but invite you to check out his website.

Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included,,,,,, and public candidate statements. For a guide to all races, see, from the League of Women Voters, and


[1] From 2014 interview: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate.”

[2] Cosponsored The Equality Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at the federal level.

[5] Need to have graduated from high school, have a clean legal record, and attend college or serve in the military.

[6] For Rubio’s immigration shifts, see here

[7] Supports legislation that protects businesses and individuals in states where marijuana has been legalized, including permission for Veterans Affairs to recommend marijuana treatment to veterans in states that allow its therapeutic use.

[8] Rubio supports first requiring an FDA process and proven medical benefits; will continue to oppose legalization or decriminalization; supports enforcement of federal laws over state laws.

[9] Supported Florida’s 2012 voter purge of suspected illegal registrants, which a court has ruled violated federal law.