- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2016

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump leads Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida by 9 points ahead of the state’s March 15primary, according to a poll released Thursday that also found Mitt Romney’s recent entrance into the 2016 discussion isn’t necessarily sitting well with Republicans there.

Mr. Trump was at 36 percent in the Suffolk University poll, followed by Mr. Rubio at 27 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 19 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 10 percent. The poll was conducted Monday through Wednesday.

“Ted Cruz is killing Marco Rubio’s chances of winning his home state,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “It appears that Cruz won’t be able to vault over both Rubio and Trump, but Cruz is attracting enough Florida voters to keep Rubio from beating Trump in this winner-take-all contest.”

Among those who have already voted early, Mr. Trump was in front at 39 percent, with Mr. Rubio at 27 percent, Mr. Cruz at 16 percent, and Mr. Kasich at 14 percent.

The survey also found that 76 percent of GOP voters in the state say Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, should stay out of the 2016 race. Mr. Romney has emerged as a leading anti-Trump voice in recent weeks, though he has not officially endorsed a candidate.

The poll also showed Mr. Romney’s official backing wouldn’t necessarily do his would-be chosen candidate much good. Thirty-five percent said his endorsement of a candidate would make them less likely to support that candidate, compared to 14 percent who said more likely and 46 percent who said it would make no difference.

SEE ALSO: Black protester sucker punched at Donald Trump rally

“Florida Republicans are telling the former Massachusetts governor that his time has passed and that he should stay out of the 2016 race because he could have a negative effect on the process,” Mr. Paleologos said.

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