Hmmm: Rubio Trails Trump By Only Five Points In New Florida Poll

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Posted: Mar 07, 2016 1:00 PM
Hmmm: Rubio Trails Trump By Only Five Points In New Florida Poll

Polling in the Sunshine State for the anti-Trump wing of the GOP has been something of a nightmare. A Quinnipiac poll had Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) facing total disaster in his home state, losing to billionaire Donald Trump by 16 points. A home state loss for Rubio would probably mean the end for his campaign, though his cohorts say that he will remain in the race even if he loses the primary on March 15; they’re taking it all the way to the convention. Last week, there was a glimmer of hope in the polling; Trump was only leading Marco Rubio by five points (via Miami Herald):

A new poll by an anti-Donald Trump group has found a narrowing Republican presidential race in Florida, suggesting the barrage of TV ads by the group and its allies might be taking effect.

Trump leads Marco Rubio 35-30 percent ahead of the March 15 primary, according to the poll conducted for Our Principles PAC by The Tarrance Group, a Republican firm, and obtained by the Miami Herald. Ted Cruz drew 16 percent support, John Kasich 9 percent and Ben Carson 5 percent. (Carson formally dropped out Friday.) Six percent of respondents were undecided.

Earlier polls by other firms have suggested a wider -- in some cases, much wider -- margin between Trump and Rubio. The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found Trump ahead by 20 percentage points, Quinnipiac University by 16 points and Associated Industries of Florida by 7 points. All those polls were conducted last week, before Our Priorities and two other groups -- American Future Fund and Club for Growth -- unleashed their anti-Trump advertising.

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The Herald obtained a two-page memo summarizing the latest poll results, without explicit details of which questions were asked and how, or of the poll’s demographics. That information would provide a better picture of the poll’s overall fairness. Tarrance is a well-known polling firm, and it surveyed 800 likely voters using live telephone calls from Feb. 29-March 2. The poll’s error margin was 3.5 percentage points.

Politico’s Florida chapter broke down the differences between the AIF and Quinnipiac polls:

A major reason the two polls might be so different: They use different survey methods.

Quinnipiac, like many firms, randomly dials voters in Florida and asks them to self-identify their party registration. As a result, some people who are technically not registered Republicans but identify personally as GOP wind up surveyed.

In AIF’s surveys, its pollsters call off a list from the Florida voter file and only contacts registered Republicans. That’s a preferred polling technique for a Florida primary because only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP contest. AIF’s pollster, Tel Opinion Research, also pre-identified voters who had cast ballots in one of the two last primaries and made sure to call them in order to guarantee he had a mix of likely voters.

Since August, when AIF first surveyed the field, Trump’s support in Florida has remained almost constant at 30 percent. But Rubio’s support has grown from 10 percent to almost 20 percent in two surveys in December to 27 percent now. The big change between December and today: Jeb Bush dropping out of the race.

“Basically, Marco got all of Jeb’s voters,” Tyson said.

Still, while this is an anti-Trump poll, there are two things to remember 1) Tarrance Group has done prolific work surveying Florida voters 2) Marco may be trailing by as much as 60,000 votes:

Thanks to in-person early voting and those who cast absentee ballots by mail, 508,000 Republicans had already voted as of Saturday morning — the first full weekend of statewide in-person early voting across all 67 counties.

If those ballots track with the averages of the last four Florida polls, Rubio could already trail Trump by as many as 60,000 votes.

Of those polled, 59 percent were “definably decided” in the race, while about 16 percent were leaning toward one candidate or another. About a quarter of those polled were still looking at several candidates. And it’s among those voters — the persuadable, late-breaking Republicans — that Rubio has seen a measure of success in other states. And, his team hopes, they’ll be able to get enough momentum to win outright on primary day, March 15.

Whoa! Talk about rolling the dice on that one. The problem with Marco is that thus far–his campaign has hit a series of bumps, despite him being marketed as the comeback candidate who is the best person to defeat Trump and win the general election. He had a so-so Super Tuesday, but suffered catastrophe during the weekend’s primary contests. He did manage to sweep Puerto Rico and nab all of its 23 delegates (more than New Hampshire), but Rubio seems unable to take advantage of the deluge of endorsements, the winnowing GOP field, and the access to cash to manifest a decisive victory. The silver lining is that Trump only won 53 of the 178 delegates up for grabs this weekend.