Trump Leads Rubio In Florida By Double Digits

If Marco Rubio can't win in his home state, where can he win?

Marco Rubio 2

To listen to Marco Rubio’s campaign, the fact that they have yet to win a primary or caucus state, or that there seems to be any reasonable prospect of them winning anywhere on Super Tuesday or March 8th. According to their logic, all Rubio needs to do is perform well enough in these states to pick up a reasonable amount of delegates since states that hold primaries before March 15th and then the campaign will kick into high gear by winning in the Senator’s home state of Florida. There are are two problems with that strategy. First of all, as things stand right now Rubio has only an estimated seventeen delegates and, while this has him tied with Ted Cruz, it puts him far behind Donald Trump and the fact that he’s likely to finish third in many of the Super Tuesday states means he’s unlikely to pick up many delegates between now and Florida on March 15th. Second, current polling has Rubio losing Florida by a decisive margin:

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is in serious danger of losing his home state to Republican presidential rival Donald Trump, a new poll shows.

Trump leads Rubio 44% to 28% in the Sunshine State, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of Florida released Thursday.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas placed third with 12% support, ahead of Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 7% and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 4%.

The survey shows Florida voters are beginning to make up their minds: Only 5% of likely Republican primary voters said they are undecided, though 30% say they may change which candidate they support.

The Florida GOP primary, which awards the winner all of its 99 delegates, will take place March 15.

While Rubio has dismissed concerns about his primary strategy — and continues to insist that the fractured GOP field has contributed to Trump’s dominance — failure to win a single delegate in his home state’s winner-take-all contest would seriously undercut his viability as a candidate.

This is hardly a surprising number, of course. As in other parts of the country, Donald Trump has led here in pretty much every poll since the summer and his lead has been in double digits for quite some time now. All of that is reflected in the RealClearPolitics numbers, which show Trump with an average lead of 19.4, with Rubio in second place at 19.3%, Ted Cruz in third at 17.7%, Ben Carson at 5.3%, and John Kasich at 4.0%. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush still shows up in the average at 8.3% but he was not included in the latest Quinnipiac Poll and it does appear that most of Bush’s former support has jumped over to Rubio, but it was hardly enough to bring Rubio any closer than the sixteen point gap reflected in the Quinnipiac poll. In other words, the removal of Jeb Bush from the race has had very little impact on the race in Florida and done nothing to knock Trump from his top of the race position.

As Chris Cillizza notes, this is not good news for Senator Rubio:

If you are Rubio, there is no way of looking at this besides that it is an unmitigated disaster Trump leads easily with almost every demographic in the poll. Rubio only leads — and does so narrowly — with college-educated Floridians, a group that was half the GOP electorate in 2012. Trump leads among those who have no degree by a 2-to-1 margin. That was the other half of the voters.

There are margins of error at play, and we’re still 20 days out and so on, but, again: disaster. About a fifth of the Republicans in Florida, 21 percent, say they’d never back Donald Trump. The percentage saying that about Rubio? Seventeen.

This poll also gives the lie to the newly popular idea that if John Kasich were to drop out, Rubio’s path to the nomination would be cleared. If Kasich had dropped out before Nevada, and Rubio had gained all that support, Donald Trump would have won by 18 points instead of 22. If Kasich dropped out before Florida and every single one of his votes went to Rubio, Rubio would lose Florida by 9 points. If Ted Cruz and Ben Carson also dropped out, Rubio would need to pick up nearly two-thirds of those votes to beat Trump — in his home state.

The reason we are talking about Kasich having to drop out is that Kasich doesn’t have much support. So re-allocating even all of that “establishment” vote to Marco Rubio doesn’t add much value to his candidacy.

Failing to win Florida would likely be fatal to Rubio’s campaign for several reasons. First of all, a candidate who is unable to win their home state in a party primary is going to have a hard time being able to make the case that they are electable in a General Election, especially when that home state is a state that Republicans absolutely must win if they are going get anywhere close to the 270 Electoral Votes needed to win the Presidency. Secondly, we’re already at the point where Rubio has finished third, fifth, second, and second in the first four contests of the 2016 race. He is unlikely to win any of the Super Tuesday or March 8th states and will be lucky to finish second in anything but a handful of them. If he doesn’t win Florida, then he will have gone seven weeks into the race without having won a single race and likely trailing badly in the delegate count. Finally, Florida is the first of the major states to award its delegates on a winner take all basis, meaning that there will be no value in placing second or third. This will be the situation for the vast majority of the states going forward and, without a win, it’s hard to see how Rubio would be able to argue that he still has a viable campaign at that point.

Obviously, with nearly three weeks to go until the Florida Primary there’s much that could change, but for the moment it appears that Marco Rubio’s date with destiny is not looking at all good for him.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    Breaking…Sandoval has pulled his name.

  2. Jeremy R says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Which suggests his fellow Republicans in the Senate let him know it wasn’t happening, even for him.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    If you are Rubio, there is no way of looking at this besides that it is an unmitigated disaster

    Trump beat Rubio by what…20 points…in S. Carolina? And Rubio had the cajones to say that Trump under-performed. Today’s typical Republican is, as we all know, fact adverse…so Rubio will have no problem believing he is still in this thing.

  4. PJ says:

    It’s all but over in the GOP primaries for anyone not named Trump.

    I think this is a good read:
    Donald Trump could get an effectively insurmountable delegate lead in just 21 days.

    And while Republicans can forget to make any inroads with Hispanics, they are sure to get the racist votes this year, obviously with the Southern Strategy, the Democrats having elected and re-elected the first African American President, etc, I’d assume there’s not a lot of them who aren’t already voting for the Republicans.

    As shown in 2008, those are not votes that the Democrats need.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    If the Universe loves us, we’ll see Trump beat Cruz in Texas. Please, pretty please with sugar on top?

  6. gVOR08 says:

    Down to the blowhard, the religious nut, and the twit. And the nut and the twit seem to be fading. Sorry, forgot Carson and Jame’s hero, Kasich, the other religious nuts. Can’t imagine why I keep forgetting they haven’t dropped out.

    Sure does look like the Grand Old Party is going to hork up Donald Trump as their nominee. Hope they’re proud.

  7. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: Who knows, your wish may come true. In Texas, you can vote in either party’s primary (but not both). If Texas (and the rest of the country) is solidifying for Clinton, the Ds may just vote in the Republican primary. Early voting is now happening (we are in the 2nd week). The other reason many vote in the Republican primary is that the down ballot votes are where the action is. Since Texas is basically a one party state, it makes rational sense in most districts for the Democrats to vote for a Not Insane Republican.

  8. Joe Gage says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I think Cruz is going to lose Texas and that will be it for him. This shitbag is actually holding up the Senate Bill for Flint. I’ve got friends on both sides of the aisle and pretty much the only thing they agree on is their contempt for this charlatan.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @Joe Gage: Rubio is just a lazy goof who would be led around by the antenna from the Kochs he has in his left ear.

    Ted Cruz is someone I detest with the white-hot-rage of a billion burning suns.

  10. Joe Gage says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Cruz is just very creepy and just reeks of bullshit. In some ways he reminds me of John Edwards, another phony bastard I saw through. These self promoters try to blanket themselves as populists when they are anything but. To me at least Trump is authentic, an Authentic asshole, but somewhat authentic.

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Scott: I almost did that very thing when I Early Voted last week (picked up a Republican ballot instead of a Democratic one) for the reason you cite: in my part of Texas, there are either zero Democrats running, or some lone token opposition. The GOP Primary is, in fact, the only portion of the election that is contested.

    There are two reasons that I did not end up doing it. First, I did not want to end up on any GOP mailing lists. Second, I wanted to vote for Bernie. Other than that, the only contest on my ballot was the three-way race for the Democratic nominee to the Railroad Commission.

  12. Tony W says:

    Let’s dispel once and for all with the fiction that Marco Rubio doesn’t know what he is doing in Florida, he knows exactly what he is doing.

  13. Jen says:

    Monmouth University poll has Cruz leading Trump 38% to 23%, Austin-Statesman has Cruz up by +12. Emerson and TEGNA/Survey USA have them pretty much tied.

    These are actually pretty dramatically divergent results this close to voting. I give an edge to Cruz, just because he has an established GOTV list, one would assume.

    Rubio’s numbers present an interesting reality to the GOP establishment. This is their one great hope to stop Trump and Cruz?

  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jeremy R:

    I’m thinking that Sandoval was being floated as a trial balloon for political reasons, i.e. there wasn’t ever a real intent to nominate him so much as the suggestion of nominating him (a moderate Republican) helps Democrats put the GOP into a box, especially with independents.

    The GOP seems to be playing along. They’re evidently so frightened of the base monster that they have created that they’re willing to risk everything in order to placate those people.

  15. Moosebreath says:

    @Tony W:

    Tony W wins the internet. Where do you want it delivered?

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Joe Gage:

    Ted is a dyed in the wool, honest to goodness sociopath.

  17. Tony W says:

    @Moosebreath: to the “anybody but Trump” campaign headquarters please.

  18. Nikki says:

    @Jeremy R: And they offered him something to keep it quiet that they asked him to withdraw.

  19. Joe Gage says:


    I wouldn’t mind bringing back the old tarring and feathering for Cruz.

  20. grumpy realist says:

    If Cruz were to magically win the election, I could see him being impeached even before being inaugurated.

  21. Grewgills says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Noooo, I want Cruz and Rubio in to the end. If they can hold Trump to a solid plurality of the votes and delegates all kinds of awesomeness can happen at the convention.

  22. Scott says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: I ended up voting Republican. Here in San Antonio, the House Speaker, Joe Straus, is under assault by the Tea Party groups like Empower Texas. Can’t let them win. From Abbott to Dan Patrick to Cruz, I can’t stand them all.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    If Cruz were to magically win the election, I could see him being impeached even before being inaugurated.

    Apparently true, maybe even especially true, if the GOPs hold or expand their majority in the Senate.

  24. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Ted Cruz is someone I detest with the white-hot-rage of a billion burning suns

    That sums it up for me also.

  25. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Scott: Yep, something similar here in Aggieland. The crazy wing of the GOP is trying to primary out a number of the local Main Street style GOP incumbents, as well.

    (I used to live in Strauss’s district, until I moved into Trey Martinez Fisher’s. That was several years ago.)

    When I was working in Austin, for one of the larger State agencies, I spent a lot of time watching the legislative sessions. It became obvious that there really are three parties in the Texas Lege: the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Crazies / Tea Party.

    The Republicans are the portion of the GOP that realize that they are actually elected to run a State that is larger than most countries, both economically and geographically, and endeavor to take that seriously. In order to avoid the kind of gridlock the House experiences in Washington, they use the Democrats to win votes related to actual governance. Budgets, leadership and committee votes, and the like. And then they use the Crazies / Tea Party wing to pursue enough of their social conservatism agenda so that they can still claim to be conservatives when they go back home.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: Cruz isn’t even all that intelligent, as I see it. He may be great at debating, but his people-sense absolutely stinks. You can’t be an arrogant bastard who thinks he’s better than anyone around him and not run into trouble at some point.

    He’s the sort of idiot who would manage to totally misread what is going on in negotiations with, say, the Japanese–and get canned by an intelligent boss toute suite. I used to spend my days running around cleaning up after these bozos.

  27. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: I have not been impressed with Cruz’ “brillliance” either. Really, he has a debate paradigm to his thinking. He has a position first and then collects data to support that position. That is why he spouts nonsense on national security and economic issues. The facts don’t support his positions, he can’t find convincing facts for support and he ends up just sounding stupid.

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: I’d almost like to see Trump or Cruz get to be POTUS just to watch the “oh SHIIIIT!” reaction when they have to deal with the Real World.

    Trump’s a carnival barker who thinks that you can force people to do your bidding by yelling at them. (What happens when they just refuse to show up at the negotiating table, dumbass?) And Cruz is a slimy Nixonian weasel who is unable to admit error. (See above). The Chinese would eat him for lunch.

  29. Tillman says:

    @grumpy realist: @Joe Gage: there’s a very simple reason why you both (and most normal people) feel incredible revulsion at Cruz.

    Go to Google, type in “Ted Cruz is,” and let the filled-in first result inform you.

  30. Tony W says:

    @Tillman: didn’t work for me.

    On a related topic this debate is painful. These people are total morons. Who is voting Republican? Seriously?

  31. Tillman says:

    @Tony W: in that case, stay tuned for the next PPP poll!

  32. gVOR08 says:


    Really, he has a debate paradigm to his thinking. He has a position first and then collects data to support that position.

    I’ve always thought of that as a lawyer paradigm. But in any case very common in politics. The RW media make a living providing factoids to support foregone conclusions.

  33. Kylopod says:

    @Joe Gage:

    Cruz is just very creepy and just reeks of bullshit. In some ways he reminds me of John Edwards, another phony bastard I saw through. These self promoters try to blanket themselves as populists when they are anything but. To me at least Trump is authentic, an Authentic asshole, but somewhat authentic.

    I was never a big fan of John Edwards, and I do agree that he was a phony. But when he played a populist in the 2008 cycle, at least he was pushing real policies aimed at helping the poor. With the Republicans, it’s all window dressing. Even Trump has largely abandoned the soak-the-rich positions he used to advocate, and his economic views have moved increasingly in the direction of orthodox GOP policy.