By Walter C. Jones –
ATLANTA — Donald Trump will easily win the Florida Republican primary, and Marco Rubio safely holds second place, according to a survey for the Florida Times-Union released Monday.
Trump had support from 44 percent of those surveyed while Rubio’s 26 percent represents a breakaway from Ted Cruz for runner-up. The two freshmen senators were essentially tied a week ago, but now Cruz’s 18 percent leaves him alone in third place. John Kasich claims 10 percent, and just 2 percent remain undecided 47 hours before the polls open.
The survey of 787 voters was conducted Sunday for the Times-Union and FOX 13 Tampa, FOX35 Orlando and FOX 5 Atlanta by Opinion Savvy. It has a 3.5 percent margin of error.
It was weighted for age, race, gender, region and evangelism to reflect expected turnout.
Veteran pollster Matt Towery acknowledges that this survey and others could be overstating Trumps margin of victory because of early voting.
“In this latest survey several internal numbers suggest some degree of a late surge by Marco Rubio,” Towery said. “For example, Trump led among early voters in our survey of last week in that survey by over 20 points. But now Trump leads Rubio 38 percent to 32 percent. It should be noted that early voting had not ended in Florida when the prior Opinion Savvy survey was conducted.”
The Florida primary has taken on increasing importance for the Republican nomination for several reasons. First, Rubio’s lackluster success in other primaries suggest his candidacy will likely end soon if he can’t win his home state. Second, Trump’s string of successes means he could be practically unstoppable if he wins Florida and Ohio.
Towery said Florida voters are showing partiality to both men.
“Trump continues to lead in every region of the state,” he said. “The poll suggests that Donald Trump remains likely to win Florida’s primary and all of its delegates, but that Rubio may have a stronger finish than many expect.”