A new poll released late yesterday shows that Donald Trump has taken a dominant lead in the key primary state of Florida. The poll, conducted by Florida Atlantic University, has Trump with 32 point lead over all Republican rivals in the Sunshine State. Iowa and New Hampshire polls are currently dominating the headline since they are the first two primary states to vote, but it is worth remembering that states like Florida and Ohio actually hold many more delegates that count toward the Republican Party nomination. Florida has 99 total delegates, compared to 30 for Iowa and 23 for New Hampshire.
According to the Florida Atlantic poll Trump leads the Republican field in Florida with 48 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz comes in a distant second with 16 percent of the vote followed by Marco Rubio in third with 11 percent. Jeb Bush places fourth with 10 percent, and all other candidates are garnering 3 percent support or below.
The Florida Atlantic poll was conducted from January 15-January 18, 2016. The sample includes 386 likely Republican primary voters in Florida. That is a fairly small sample, and the poll has a large margin-of-error equal to +/- 4.9 percentage points.
The last poll that Florida Atlantic released in mid November had Trump with 36 percent support compared to 18 percent for Rubio, 15 percent or Ben Carson, 10 percent for Ted Cruz, and 9 percent for Jeb Bush. As support has decreased for Carson and Rubio those votes are now coalesced around Trump, giving him a sizable lead now.
Many analysts assumed that voters would rally around Rubio or Cruz as an alternative to Trump as the primary contests drew near, but the Florida Atlantic poll suggests that the opposite may be true. As more voters are convinced that Trump is winning he may be benefiting from a bandwagon effect.
The Florida Atlantic poll is the first to have Trump polling near 50 percent in Florida, though other polls did have Trump with a large, double-digit lead in the state . A Real Clear Politics average of three polls released over the last month weeks has Trump leading the Republican field with the support of 38.3 percent of Florida Republican voters. Cruz comes in second with 19.0 percent of the Florida Republican vote, and Rubio places third with 13.3 percent.
It is worth remembering that the polls for these later primary states may be influenced greatly by the results in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and the media coverage that follows. Trump is currently neck-and-neck with Cruz in Iowa, where he holds a small two point lead in the RCP average. Trump still holds a large lead of 20 points over all challengers in New Hampshire, and a lead of 15 points in South Carolina. Simply put, unless the poll numbers change in the coming month it is hard to imagine anyone but Trump winning the Republican Party nomination.