The Donald Trump juggernaut rolls into Florida where the GOP front-runner leads native son Sen. Marco Rubio 44 – 28 percent among likely Republican primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has 12 percent with Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 7 percent and Dr. Ben Carson at 4 percent.
Men back Trump over Rubio 49 – 25 percent, while women go to Trump 39 – 31 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. Trump gets a low negative score in the Sunshine State as 21 percent of likely Republican primary voters say they “would definitely not support” Trump for the nomination, with 26 percent saying no to Cruz and 17 percent saying no to Rubio. Five percent of Florida likely Republican primary voters are undecided and 30 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind before the March 15 primary.
Strong leadership is the most important quality in a presidential nominee, 32 percent of Florida Republicans say, as 23 percent most want someone who is honest and trustworthy and 20 percent most want someone who shares their values. “Florida is the single biggest prize of the primary season because it is the largest state to allocate its delegates on a winner-take-all basis. If Sen. Rubio can’t win in his own home state, it is difficult to see how he can win elsewhere,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“Florida election law makes this contest more uncertain than earlier primaries. Only registered Republicans may vote here, which raises the question of whether the flood of new voters Donald Trump seemed to bring to earlier contests will be able to participate in Florida.”
“The size and shape of Trump’s lead is impressive. He leads in every age group by 9 to 19 percentage points. He does better among men than among women and, despite being a New York multi-billionaire, he leads among those who identify with the Tea Party,” Brown added. “He also does twice as well among white evangelicals as does Sen. Ted Cruz, who is trying to make this group his core constituency.
“A third of likely primary voters say a candidate who is a strong leader is key to their choice and 66 percent of them support Trump.” Trump is the choice of 66 percent of Florida likely Republican primary voters who most want a candidate with strong leadership, with only 16 percent for Rubio. The native son leads Trump 39 – 29 percent among Republicans who most want someone who shares their values. Rubio and Trump are tied 30 – 30 percent among those who most want a candidate who is honest and trustworthy.
The economy and jobs is the most important primary election issue, 31 percent of Republicans say, with 18 percent citing terrorism and 14 percent listing immigration. Trump tops Rubio 51 – 28 percent among voters who list the economy and jobs as the most important issue, 44 – 34 percent among those who cite terrorism and 66 – 12 percent among those who say immigration is most important.
From February 21 – 24, Quinnipiac University surveyed 705 Florida likely Republican primary voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.