Two new polls indicate the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is leading Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in his own home state. The numbers indicate a steep climb for the senator as he has taken a new, aggressive stance against the business mogul.
A Feb. 25 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed Trump with a whopping lead in the Sunshine state with 45 percent support. Rubio comes in a distant second with 25 percent support.
Competitors Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas trails behind with 10 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 8 percent and finally, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson dead last with five percent.
However, even when you remove these three rivals from the race and simulate a one-on-one match between Trump and Rubio, PPP found that the business mogul would still triumph with 52 percent compared to the senator’s 38 percent.
PPP also measured Florida respondents’ attitudes on Rubio himself, and the data was not flattering. Only 31 percent approve of his job performance, 55 percent disapproving. Meanwhile, while 40 percent of respondents wanted him to continue his presidential bid, 44 percent thought he should just call it a day.
“Marco Rubio needs to hope tonight’s debate was a big game changer,” said PPP President Dean Debnam. “He was so weak going in that he couldn’t beat out Donald Trump one on one even in Florida.”
Meanwhile, a Feb. 25 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University mirrored PPP’s take on the state race. The survey results have Trump with 44 percent while Rubio was again in a distant second with 28 percent. If the Florida GOP primary took place today, the senator would be creamed by double-digit-margins in his own state.
“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, wrote the poll’s assistant director, Peter A. Brown. “If Sen/ Rubio can’t win in his own home state, it is difficult to see how he can win elsewhere.”
It would appear that the senator took the memo to heart during the Feb. 25 Republican debate in Texas. Rubio, who had shied from engaging Trump directly throughout the GOP race, launched a scathing attack on the business mogul, bashing him for his hiring of Polish workers, his failed University and lack of specifics for his policies, Politico reports.
Trump, who had previously swatted away attacks on his record on the debate stage, appeared flustered for the first time during the primary.
“Where was this Marco Rubio four debates ago?” asked GOP debate coach Brett O’Donnell.
Rubio’s new line of attack may have been too late to dramatically impact Super Tuesday on March 1, but he has until March 15 to regain his footing in Florida. The senator has a long way to go.