Quinnipiac has released the first poll of Florida taken since two weeks before Iowa – which is to say, this is the first even semi-relevant poll we even have for Florida in the current environment. The top line results are not good for Marco Rubio, who has moved into a clear second place standing, but is still well behind Trump. The Q-Poll shows Trump leading with 44%, Rubio with 28%, and Cruz with 12%. The other two chuckleheads get less than that.
This is obviously not a good piece of news for Rubio as he heads into Super Tuesday, but the usual caveats about polling in general and about a single poll in particular apply here. Right now the polls in Texas show a race that Ted Cruz must win as anything between an absolute tie and a 12 point lead for Cruz.
The second point to be made here is that there are still three weeks until the Florida primary, which as we have seen in this season is a political eternity. There’s still time for Rubio to turn this around, even if we assume that this Q-Poll is gospel.
However, it reinforces the importance of what I said earlier today – Rubio cannot expect to win this election just by taking support away from Cruz. He must go after Trump and try to pry some of his support away.
Trump is going to have 30 or 35% of the party with him no matter what. That’s okay. What’s not okay is if Trump starts to edge up into the 40 or 45% range, picking up marginal votes from other candidates – that makes him nigh unbeatable, even if Rubio gets each and every single one of Cruz’s votes (which he won’t). Rubio must show an ability (and a willingness) to take on Trump directly and beat him.
If he can’t, his strategy is due to fail.