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Florida Poll: Trump, Carson Lead, Jeb Bush Drops to Fifth

A survey of Florida Republicans highlights the increasingly uphill climb for Jeb Bush’s campaign to win the Republican nomination.

The poll, taken after the FoxBusiness GOP debate, finds the state’s former Governor slipping to fifth place, behind leaders Donald Trump and Ben Carson and Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. More than one-in-five Florida Republicans thought Bush did the worst in the most recent debate.

Jeb Bush’s latest campaign reboot, “Jeb Can Fix It,” seeks to highlight his record as Governor of the Sunshine State. Unfortunately for Jeb, however, whatever accomplishments he had as Governor seem like ancient history. He left the Governor’s mansion almost a decade ago and was last on the ballot in Florida 13 years ago.

With just a fifth place showing in this latest poll of Florida, it seems Jeb will have to spend considerable energy reminding the state’s own voters about his record as Governor. His relative standing in Florida is no stronger than it is anywhere else.

Earlier in the campaign, pundits suggested that Rubio and Bush could split the vote in Florida’s important March 15 primary, allowing an outsider to eke out a win and steal the state’s delegates from the two “favorite sons.”

This recent poll renders that assessment quaint. Bush’s major challenge in Florida now isn’t so much overcoming Rubio, but all the other major candidates in his home state. Rubio’s support in Florida, while strong compared to other states, doesn’t look anything like a cornerstone of his campaign.

Donald Trump continues to lead the field in Florida, with 23 percent support. Ben Carson is second and essentially tied with Trump, at 22 percent. Marco Rubio is 3rd with 18 percent, followed by a rising Ted Cruz at 12 percent. Bush is the only other Republican with double-digit support, winning the backing of 11 percent of Republicans.

Amazingly, more than two-thirds of Florida Republicans back a candidate other than their home-state politicians. Together, Rubio and Bush command less than 30 percent of their state’s Republicans. The trio of Trump, Carson and Cruz, who are running the most explicitly anti-establishment campaigns, together earn the backing of 56 percent of Florida Republicans.

The voter backlash against the Republican party establishment apparently is much stronger than ties to home-state politicians.

The poll, conducted for the Florida Times-Union by polling firm Opinion Survey, was conducted on November 11th, the day after the GOP debate. The poll interviewed 806 likely Republican primary voters and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

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