Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio pause in honor of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia before the start of the Republican presidential debate, Feb. 13, 2016. 
Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Latest polls set the stage for Republican barn burner

Todd Harris, a top strategist for Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, boasted yesterday that the senator will, without a doubt, win the Florida primary on March 15. Using unfortunately familiar phrasing, Harris insisted, “We are going to win Florida. Period. Take it to the bank.”
The fact that this is even open to question is evidence of a campaign that is not yet going the senator’s way – because if there’s even a possibility of Rubio losing his own home state, the Republican lawmaker’s candidacy is in pretty big trouble.
But as it turns out, those are the circumstances looming over the race. A Quinnipiac poll was released yesterday showing Donald Trump ahead in the Sunshine State’s GOP primary with 44%, well ahead of Rubio’s 28%. Last night, Public Policy Polling released similar results:
PPP’s newest Florida Republican poll (conducted Wednesday and Thursday before the debate) finds Donald Trump dominant in the state. He’s getting 45% to 25% for Marco Rubio, 10% for Ted Cruz, 8% for John Kasich, and 5% for Ben Carson.
The most remarkable thing in this poll though is what happens when you narrow the field down to just Trump and Rubio: Trump still leads by double digits at 52/38. Rubio does win over supporters of Cruz (56/25), Kasich (47/32), and Carson (64/21) in such a scenario. But Trump has such a big lead to begin with and picks up enough of the supporters of the also rans that it gives him the overall 14-point advantage.
And while those are pretty brutal numbers for Rubio, I assume Republicans and pundits will be quick to note that these are just two polls, and perhaps both are wildly off the mark. It’s possible. But let’s not forget that in every recent statewide poll, Trump leads Rubio by double digits in Florida.
It’s true, of course, that a lot can happen between now and March 15, but if these polls hold firm, Trump will not only embarrass Rubio in his own state, he’ll also pick up all of Florida’s 99 delegates in this winner-take-all contest.
Of course, with a big block of primaries and caucuses coming up, this isn’t the only polling we’re seeing.
For example, a WBUR poll in Massachusetts, which hosts a March 1 primary, found these results: Trump 40%, Kasich 19%, Rubio 19%, Cruz 10%.
A Monmouth University poll in Virginia, which also hosts a March 1 primary, showed the race shaping up this way: Trump 41%, Rubio 27%, Cruz 14%.
A Bloomberg Politics poll, meanwhile, polled Republican primary voters across a region – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia – and released these results late yesterday: Trump 37%, Cruz 20%, Rubio 20%, Carson 8%, Kasich 6%.
In hypothetical one-on-one match-ups, Trump leads each of his rivals, though by modest margins.