A Monmouth University poll released Monday shows Donald Trump expanding his lead over Sen. [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] in Florida, and that voters in the Sunshine State are more likely than not to back Trump in response to the anti-Trump protest in Chicago.
Trump leads with 44 percent in Florida, and Rubio follows with 27 percent. In third is Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] with 17 percent and Gov. John Kasich is in fourth with 9 percent. While Kasich and Cruz remain unchanged from previous Monmouth polls, Trump has extended his lead over Rubio from 8 percentage points to 17 percentage points.
Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University Polling Institute, said, “Florida is do or die for the Rubio campaign, but it looks like victory may have slipped from his grasp.”
The poll also asked likely Florida voters if and how the protest that shut down Trump’s Chicago rally will affect their vote in the March 15 primary.(RELATED: Here Are The Radical Leftist Anti-Trump Groups Behind The Chicago Protest)
Most respondents, 66 percent said that it had no impact. Twenty-two percent of voters said the incident made the more likely to support Trump, as opposed to 11 percent who said it would make them less likely to support him.
While throughout the race Rubio has been calling for the field to thin out in order to help him defeat the New York real estate developer, this poll shows that a head-to-head race wouldn’t favor the Florida senator. In fact, Cruz does better in Florida in a two-man race against Trump.
A hypothetical choice between Rubio and Trump has 54 percent of voters supporting The Donald, and 39 percent backing Rubio. If the matchup is between Cruz and Trump, Trump leads 48 percent to 40 percent.
The poll also asked GOP voters whether they would support Trump if he is chosen as the nominee. Nearly 3 in 4, 74 percent, said they would. Cruz supporters are more likely to support Trump in the general election — 3 in 4 — while only half of Rubio and Kasich supporters said they would definitely vote for the New York real estate developer.
The poll of 405 likely Florida voters was conducted over telephone from March 11 to March 13 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent. The pollsters found that Trump’s lead increased in the Sunshine State with each night of interviews.