Suffolk U. poll of Fla. primary: Donald Trump 36%, Marco Rubo 27%

in 2017/Top Headlines by

A new survey released by Suffolk University finds that Florida Republicans prefer Donald Trump to Marco Rubio by nine points even though most think the New York businessman is the least conservative in the GOP candidates.

The survey, of 500 likely Republican primary voters in Florida, gives Trump 36 percent, U.S. Sen. Rubio of Florida 27 percent, US. Sen. Ted Cruz of  Texas 19 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich 10 percent.

That preference comes even though almost none of the GOP voters think Trump is very conservative. Instead, they see him as the most likely candidate to defeat Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

While Rubio appears within striking distance, his support is soft among those not picking him. The same is true for Trump. When asked for their second-choices, the 26 percent said Cruz, 21 percent Kasich, 17 percent Rubio and 10 percent Trump.

And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush likely wouldn’t fare much better than Rubio. Suffolk University asked the voters if they would vote for him if he was still in the race.  Likely Republican primary voters said no, 66 percent to 29 percent.

This does not appear to be a contest to decide who is most conservative, according to the Suffolk survey. Forty-five percent said Cruz was most conservative, 14 percent went for each of Rubio and Kasich and 10 percent for Trump. And when asked who was the least conservative, 54 percent said Trump, 15 percent said Rubio, 8 percent said Kasich and 3 percent said Cruz.

Rather, the question that made the difference was who could defeat Clinton: 47 percent said Trump, 19 percent said Cruz, 15 percent said Rubio and 4 percent said Kasich.

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at