Sen. Marco Rubio is closing the gap with GOP presidential primary front-runner Donald Trump in a likely make-or-break primary contest for the Florida lawmaker in his home state, a new poll shows.
In the Monmouth University survey
released Monday, Trump is leading Rubio by 8 points.
Here's the breakdown:
- Trump: 38 percent
- Rubio: 30 percent
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: 17 percent
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich: 10 percent
A Public Policy Polling survey
last month gave the real estate billionaire a 20 point margin over Rubio, as did One America News Network
and Gravis Marketing poll.
Florida's contest March 15
is a winner-take-all race for 99 delegates — and one that could re-ignite or stifle Rubio's primary run.
According to the new poll, Rubio leads the front-runner among the approximate 1 in 5 voters who have already cast their ballots, 48 percent to 23 percent.
"Rarely will you hear a poll called 'good news' for a candidate when it has him down 8 points in his home state, but this really is the most encouraging news Rubio's had in ages," the website HotAir.com writes in a commentary.
"And the best news anti-Trumpers have had since, well, Saturday afternoon."
The commentary points out Rubio's impressive lead in the early voting is "way, way off from what most people expect."
"It's Trump who's supposed to be cleaning up in the early vote, not Rubio," HotAir.com writes. "Trump's the one who's been leading in the polls there for months and Trump's the one with the most enthusiastic voters. If anyone's banking votes early, you'd expect it to be him."
Trump leads among those who haven't voted yet, 42 percent to 26 percent.
In a hypothetical head-to-head vote between Trump and Rubio in Florida, Trump edges out Rubio 47 percent to 45 percent, according to the poll.
"Rubio is within shooting distance in his home state with a week to go in this volatile nomination contest," Patrick Murray, director of the university's Polling Institute says in a statement. "It is telling, though, that Rubio is not even the clear victor in a direct face off with Trump…"
The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
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