A Florida Times-Union poll released on Saturday, August 8th, has Donald Trump leading the GOP field, with 27 percent support to 26 percent for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Trump’s slim lead means that the race is a virtual dead heat between Trump and Bush.
The rest of the field lags far behind, with no other candidate polling better than 8 percent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio sits way back at 7 percent support.
The poll of 547 likely Republican primary voters was conducted by telephone on August 3rd, prior to Thursday night’s debate. As such, any positive or negative momentum any candidate gleaned from the debate will not be reflected in the results.
Trump’s strong numbers in Florida underscore his appeal with GOP voters. The Sunshine State is home to both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, yet neither of those candidates has been able to parlay their home state advantage into a lead over Donald Trump on their own turf.
Rubio’s anemic poll numbers in Florida suggest that home state voters are wary about supporting him for president. While Bush fares better than Rubio, he too is unable to shake off Donald Trump on his home territory.
Florida is a delegate rich state that both Bush and Rubio have to view as a must win state for their respective campaigns. If either candidate falters in his home state, it could mark the end of their presidential hopes. Furthermore, the state is a pivotal general election battleground state. Republican strategists know that the GOP has little chance of winning the White House if they can’t nail down Florida.
Given Florida’s critical significance, a home state candidate cannot appear to look weak in the primary, for that will not bode well for their general election chances. Florida voters know Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio better than anybody else, and yet Republican voters in the state would rather cast their lot with Donald Trump. That speaks volumes.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.