If the Quinnipiac poll is correct, it could spell total disaster for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) when he will be fighting on his state’s March 15 primary against what appears to be an unstoppable Donald Trump. The survey conducted on February 21-24, showed the billionaire magnate with a whooping 16-point lead (44/28):
The Donald Trump juggernaut rolls into Florida where the GOP front-runner leads native son Sen. Marco Rubio 44 - 28 percent among likely Republican primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has 12 percent with Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 7 percent and Dr. Ben Carson at 4 percent.
"Florida is the single biggest prize of the primary season because it is the largest state to allocate its delegates on a winner-take-all basis. If Sen. Rubio can't win in his own home state, it is difficult to see how he can win elsewhere," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"The size and shape of Trump's lead is impressive. He leads in every age group by 9 to 19 percentage points. He does better among men than among women and, despite being a New York multi-billionaire, he leads among those who identify with the Tea Party," Brown added.
Rubio and Trump are tied 30 - 30 percent among those who most want a candidate who is honest and trustworthy.
The economy and jobs is the most important primary election issue, 31 percent of Republicans say, with 18 percent citing terrorism and 14 percent listing immigration.
Trump tops Rubio 51 - 28 percent among voters who list the economy and jobs as the most important issue, 44 - 34 percent among those who cite terrorism and 66 - 12 percent among those who say immigration is most important.
The sample size was made up of 705 likely Florida Republican voters. Trump not only leads with Tea Partiers, but Evangelicals, men, women, college graduates, non-college graduates, Millennials, Gen-xers, and baby boomers.
Trump is expected to claim victory throughout much of the primary contests held on Super Tuesday, though Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz should be able to nab some delegates, given that both men have been able to break 20 percent of the vote; a threshold for delegate allocation in the southern states. The window for Rubio, and especially Cruz, to consolidate the anti-Trump vote is rapidly closing. And even though it looks as if Rubio could be the best person to take on the Donald, it could be too late.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling firm was even more grim. When they narrowed the field, Trump still beat Rubio by double-digits:
The most remarkable thing in this poll though is what happens when you narrow the field down to just Trump and Rubio- Trump still leads by double digits at 52/38. Rubio does win over supporters of Cruz (56/25), Kasich (47/32), and Carson (64/21) in such a scenario. But Trump has such a big lead to begin with and picks up enough of the supporters of the also rans that it gives him the overall 14 point advantage.
Rubio's trouble doesn't end there. His approval rating as Senator has cratered to a 31/55 spread, compared to a much more evenly divided 41/44 when we last polled the state in September. Only 40% of voters in the state think he should continue with his campaign, compared to a 44% plurality who think it's time for him to drop out. And he narrowly trails both Hillary Clinton (45/43) and Bernie Sanders (44/42) in head to head general election match ups. Rubio's become quite unpopular at home over the course of his campaign.
Winning has made Trump more popular. 64% of Republicans in Florida now have a favorable opinion of him to only 27% with a negative one. That actually puts him ahead of Rubio's 60/28 standing. The most broadly popular Republican for what little it's worth is Carson at 65/18. Kasich's at 53/22, and for the second state in a row we find Cruz under water at 39/48. We found that he had slipped into negative territory on our final South Carolina poll as well.
Um. Ouch. Now, the silver lining (using the [phrase lightly) is that the sample is a bit small for a statewide poll. It was only 464 likely Florida voters, of which 71 percent described themselves as somewhat to very conservative. Twenty-three percent were moderate, while somewhat liberal to liberal rounded it out at three percent a piece. A more accurate gauge would have been at least 600 voters, but let’s not split hairs here. Trump would probably still be in a double-digit lead over Rubio, albeit a few notches down with a 600+ sample.