This afternoon’s Monmouth University Poll finds Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) trailing billionaire real estate Donald Trump by eight points in Florida’s Republican primary.
It’s bad news for Rubio, who needs his home state of Florida on March 15th to make a case for continuing his campaign, which so far has put just two minor states in the candidate’s win column.
He trails dismally in the delegate count behind the front-running Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
In today’s poll, Trump has support from 38% of likely primary voters compared to 30% who back Rubio. Cruz earns 17% support and John Kasich has 10%. Rubio actually leads Trump by 48% to 23% among the nearly 1-in-5 voters who have already cast their ballots in this “early vote” state. Trump has a 42% to 26% lead among those who have yet to vote.
Rubio leads Trump 41% to 30% in the southern part of the state. Trump has a significant 44% to 22% advantage in Florida’s central region. The race is closer in the northern tier of the state, with Trump at 36% and Rubio at 32%. Nearly one-fifth of the likely electorate is non-white, mostly Cuban or other Hispanic. This group appears to prefer Rubio over Trump, but the sample size is too small to report exact percentages.
“Rubio is within shooting distance in his home state with a week to go in this volatile nomination contest,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “It is telling, though, that Rubio is not even the clear victor in a direct face off with Trump. There goes the argument that Rubio would triumph if only it were a two person race.”
With all the discussion about hands in this election, Murray added, Monmouth decided to test how Rubio and Cruz would do mano a mano against Trump. Trump (47%) and Rubio (45%) are basically tied in this hypothetical two person race. Trump (48%) would potentially have a decided edge over Cruz (40%) in a head to head vote in Florida.
In addition to the 19% of Republican voters who have already cast their ballots, 38% say they are completely decided on their candidate choice before they head to the polls. Another 25% have a strong preference but are still open to considering other candidates. One-in-five either have only a slight preference (9%) or are basically undecided (10%). Trump voters (67%) are more likely to be locked in when compared to supporters of Kasich (59%), Rubio (55%), or Cruz (48%).
If Trump emerges as the GOP nominee, 3-in-4 Florida Republicans (75%) say they would get behind him in a general election against Hillary Clinton. However, 10% would actually vote for Clinton. While the following responses were not offered in the poll question itself, 2% volunteer that they would vote 3rd party, 7% say they would not vote at all, and 6% are not sure what they would do.
Monmouth University conducted the poll by telephone from March 3 to 6, 2016 with 403 Florida voters likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary. This sample as a margin of error of +4.9 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.