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Marco Rubio trails Donald Trump by 16 in new Florida Q-Poll

Donald Trump is clobbering Marco Rubio in Florida, according to a new poll of likely Republican voters.

A Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday showed Trump has a commanding lead over Florida’s native son. The survey showed Trump led the GOP field with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Rubio with 28 percent of the ballot.

On Wednesday, Rubio told “CBS This Morning” anchors he believed he could win his home state.

“Well, we’ll win in Florida now that Gov. (Jeb) Bush is no longer in the race,” Florida’s junior U.S. senator told CBS News’ Gayle King. “Him and I split a lot of the support in Florida, so that will help us.”

Bush suspended his campaign on Saturday after a poor showing in three early primary states. In the days since his announcement, many of his Florida supporters have thrown their support behind Rubio.

“Florida is the single biggest prize of the primary season because it is the largest state to allocate delegates on a winner-take-all basis. If Sen. Rubio can’t win in his own home state, it is difficult to see how he can win elsewhere,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll in a statement Thursday.

The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 705 likely Florida Republican primary voters from Sunday through Wednesday. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

The poll indicates Floridians want the Republican nominee to be a strong leader, with 32 percent of respondents saying that was the most important quality, while 23 percent said honesty.

Among likely Republican primary voters in the Sunshine State who wanted a candidate with strong leadership qualities, 66 percent picked Trump, while 16 percent picked Rubio. The men are tied at 30 percent among voters who wanted a candidate who is honest.

The poll found 30 percent of likely Republican primary voters who said they supported a candidate said they might change their mind before the March 15 election.

The poll could signal trouble for Rubio. The Florida senator hasn’t won a nominating contest yet, placing second in the South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucus. He came in third in Iowa,  fifth in New Hampshire.

The Quinnipiac University survey is the first poll of Florida primary voters in about a month, and all of the recent polls showed Trump with a commanding lead. The new poll found Ted Cruz in third place with 12 percent, John Kasich at 7 percent, and Ben Carson at 4 percent.

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