Should You Vote for Marco Rubio in Florida?

Marco Rubio Florida, Florida primary, Never Trump

Rubio at an event in Florida. (Getty)


If you’re a registered Republican in Florida looking to stop Trump, a vote for Marco Rubio may be your best chance. While Rubio is highly unlikely to get the nomination on his own, he’s polling close in Florida and could deny Trump the state’s 99 delegates, a huge step toward keeping him from gaining a majority of delegates and clinching the nomination outright. That would take the race to the convention, where the party opposition to Trump could deny him the nomination.

In light of this, the Rubio campaign has turned to a novel strategy, calling for their own supporters to vote Kasich in the Ohio primary to deny Trump the state’s winner-take-all-99 delegates:

And while the Kasich camp pointedly refused to return the favor:

Rubio’s interesting strategy has some wondering if employing the same strategy in the Senator’s home state is the best hope for stopping Trump.

Remaining Candidate Delegate Count 1,237 Needed to Win
Donald Trump 459
Ted Cruz 360
Marco Rubio 152
John Kasich 54

Here’s what you need to know:

A Contested Convention May Be Needed to Stop Trump

2,457 delegates are up for grabs throughout the GOP race. Since a nominee needs a majority of the delegates to clinch the nomination before the convention, that requires 1,237 delegates. At 459, Trump is far out in front, but will need just over 54% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright. While Trump isn’t close to that in national polls, multiple delegate-rich states, including Florida, are winner-take-all states, meaning that all 99 of the state’s delegates will go to the winner.

If Trump is denied Florida by Marco Rubio (and, similarly, by John Kasich in Ohio), along with Ted Cruz’s solid performance, it would would likely take the race down to the convention in July. Given Trump’s strong opposition from the GOP establishment and party officials, someone besides Trump has much better odds of overtaking him there than in the state contests.

Rubio Trump’s Biggest Florida Rival

Polls suggest Rubio could pull out an upset victory in Florida, giving his campaign a much-needed boost and denying Trump a key state:

RealClearPolitics Averages
Donald Trump 39.9
Marco Rubio 25.2
Ted Cruz 18.2

FiveThirtyEight’s projections, though, are a little less sunny:

FiveThirtyEight Polls-Plus Projection
Donald Trump 83%
Marco Rubio 16%

The Case for Rubio

While we’re not endorsing any candidate, Rubio’s appeal to voters is part of the context behind the tactical voting case in Florida:

  • The Party Favorite: Rubio is far and away the endorsement leader, both in the raw number of endorsers and in their importance, as weighted by FiveThirtyEight. Rubio is believed to be the candidate who can gain and keep party momentum.
  • Polls Well Against the Democrats: In recent general election matchup polls, Rubio beats Hillary Clinton by an average of 4 points and stays within 4 points of Bernie Sanders. The only candidate that does better, John Kasich, is even further back; Cruz is up less than a point against Clinton and down nearly 10 to Sanders, with Trump down 6.3 to Clinton and 10 to Sanders.
  • Well-Reviewed Policies: The tax plan he devised with Representative Mike Lee of Utah was received well by the Tax Foundation, and he’s the only remaining Republican with a comprehensive plan on education.