- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2016

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump holds an 8-point lead over Sen. Marco Rubio in Mr. Rubio’s home state of Florida, according to a poll released Monday ahead of the all-important March 15 winner-take-all contest.

Mr. Trump was at 38 percent support among likely Florida GOP primary voters in the Monmouth University poll, followed by Mr. Rubio at 30 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 17 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 10 percent.

The 8-point margin is considerably smaller than Mr. Trump’s advantage in the state in other recent polls. He led Mr. Rubio by 16 points in a Quinnipiac poll taken late last month, and has a 16-point advantage in the latest Real Clear Politics average.

“Rubio is within shooting distance in his home state with a week to go in this volatile nomination contest,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “It is telling, though, that Rubio is not even the clear victor in a direct face off with Trump. There goes the argument that Rubio would triumph if only it were a two person race.”

Mr. Trump had a 2-point lead over Mr. Rubio head-to-head, 47 percent to 45 percent. The billionaire businessman held an 8-point lead over Mr. Cruz, 48 percent to 40 percent, in a head-to-head matchup.

Mr. Rubio did lead Mr. Trump by a 48 percent to 23 percent margin among the 19 percent of voters who said they have already cast their ballots early. Mr. Trump had a 16-point, 42 percent to 26 percent lead among those who have yet to vote.

If Mr. Trump became the GOP nominee, 75 percent of GOP voters in the state said they would support him against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Ten percent said they would vote for Mrs. Clinton, 7 percent said they wouldn’t vote, 2 percent said they would vote for someone else, and 6 percent said they weren’t sure what they would do.

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