Marco Rubio’s path to victory in his home state — a state he considers a must-win — looks like an uphill battle, according to a new poll released Thursday.
Rubio, a Florida senator, trailed GOP frontrunner Donald Trump by 16 points in the Sunshine State. Trump held a 44% to 28% edge there.
Rubio said last Sunday that, like several other elected officials in the race, he would need to win his home state.
“Well, I think that’s true for everyone in this race. And it’s always been true. And we feel real good about Florida, especially now that the race has narrowed,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week” when asked if Florida was a “must win.”
He described the race similarly on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“When we get into the winner-take-all states in the middle of March, Ohio, Florida, big chunks of delegates, that’s where you really need to begin to win states,” Rubio said.
A Rubio adviser tweeted that the media “needs to chill” about his candidate’s showing in the poll.
Media needs to chill. The FL Q poll #’s are way wrong. We are going to win Florida. Period. Take it to the bank.
— Todd Harris (@dtoddharris) February 25, 2016
The National Review reported that Florida, with 99 delegates, is the largest winner-take-all state in terms of delegates during the Republican primary season.
Rubio, who has yet to win a state, is considered by many to be the biggest challenger to Trump. In recent days, following the suspension of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign after last Saturday’s South Carolina primary, much of the GOP’s establishment support has rushed to get behind Rubio.
The poll isn’t all bad news for Rubio, however. Compared to a CBS/YouGov poll from January, Rubio has seen his support shoot up by 10 points, compared to just a three-point increase for Trump.
In addition, Rubio has seen a 16-point jump in support when the Quinnipiac poll is contrasted with a Florida Times-Union poll from mid-January. Trump’s support increased by 10 points when those two polls are compared.
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