The Sunshine State is a make-or-break primary for Rubio’s struggling campaign.
A poll released Monday by Monmouth University forecasts a slightly narrower race for the candidate: according to the poll, Donald Trump was beating Rubio by 8 percentage points. While Trump could claim the support of 38% of likely primary voters, Rubio netted 30% in his home state.
A Quinnipiac poll from two weeks ago had given Trump a 16-point advantage.
The poll comes on the same day as a CNN report that said some Rubio campaign staffers are advising the Florida senator to pull out of the race before he faces the potentially embarrassing primary in his home state.
Florida Republicans will vote in the state’s primary on March 15, and the candidate with the largest share of votes in the winner-take-all-state will walk away with 99 delegates.
In a hypothetical race, the poll found that Rubio and Trump would be virtually tied. “It is telling…that Rubio is not even the clear victor in a direct face off with Trump,” Patrick Murray, the director of the university’s polling institute, said in a statement. “There goes the argument that Rubio would triumph if only it were a two person race.”
So far, though, Rubio is winning the fight for early voters. Rubio leads Trump by 48% to 23% among the 19% of voters who have already cast their ballots, according to Monmouth’s poll.
Though Rubio became the anti-Trump Republican establishment’s candidate of choice after Jeb Bush dropped out of the race, he has not won the support of many voters. The Florida Senator has only won two primaries so far, bringing him to 151 delegates compared to Trump’s 384. Republican pollsters say that a loss in Florida would seal Rubio’s defeat.