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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Insider Poll: Donald Trump looking much weaker heading toward open convention



Conventional wisdom among Florida's political elites has shifted dramatically over the past six weeks on the likelihood of Donald Trump becoming the next Republican presidential nominee.

A week before Trump easily won Florida’s primary and knocked Marco Rubio out of the race, we asked more than 150 plugged in Florida politicos if they expected Trump to win the nomination and almost nine in 10 said yes. In our latest Florida Insider Poll conducted this week, after Ted Cruz won the Wisconsin primary, only 48 percent said they expect Trump to be the nominee. Among Republicans who participated, just 41 percent see him winning.

Trump remains the overwhelming frontrunner, but it’s not at all certain that he will ultimately win the 1,237 delegates to the national convention that he needs to clinch the nomination. In an open or contested national convention, a strong majority of our Florida Insiders have no problem nominating someone else even if Trump arrives arrives without a majority of delegates.

We asked: If Donald Trump fails to win a majority of delegates but comes close - say about 1,200 delegates, rather than the required 1,237 -- would it be appropriate for Republicans to nominate someone else?

Sixty two percent said yes, including more than six in 10 Republicans surveyed.

“Whether it’s on the first vote or on the tenth vote, RNC rules dictates that a majority of delegates is necessary for a candidate to become the nominee. And the convention fight that may occur due to a candidate not having the necessary 1,237 is fair game,” one Republican said.

Warned another: “If Trump is fairly close to the delegates needed to secure the nomination and it goes to a contested convention, the party will implode. We are in the age of social media and the electorate will not be happy with any back door deals.”

Florida Insider Polls are unscientific exercises where we survey political operatives, activists, fundraisers, lobbyists, academics and others closely involved in Florida politics. Many of our participants are actively working with candidates included in the survey, and we allow people to answer anonymously to encourage frank answers.

Slightly more than half said it would be inappropriate for Republicans to nominate someone not currently running, but six in 10 Republicans said they would be appropriate. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is often mentioned as the likeliest option in that scenario. 

“If they try to nominate someone like Ryan I don’t care if they succeed,” a Democrat said, “because the party will be so broken at that point that they will get crushed up and down the ballot this fall.”

Another Republican said his party is in a “no-win situation. The ‘never Trump’ supporters forget that he actually is going to win by millions of votes, and at least 40 percent of the GOP primary voters support him. If he does not get the nomination, a large portion of his supporters will not vote. On the other side, if Trump does get the nomination, at least 10 percent of the movement conservatives will never vote for him.”

Overwhelmingly our Florida Insiders see Hillary Clinton as a stronger Democratic nominee than Bernie Sanders. More than 80 percent said Clinton would win Florida against either Trump or Ted Cruz, but roughly 70 percent said either Trump or Cruz would beat Sanders in Florida.

Florida no longer has a homestate candidate in the race, but 58 percent said they expect Rubio to run again for president in 2020.

As for the open race to succeed Rubio in the senate, 85 percent predicted moderate U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter would be the nominee, rather than U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. In the crowded Republican primary, 35 percent predicted U.S. Rep. David Jolly of Pinellas County will be the nominee, 27 percent predicted Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami, 25 percent said U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of the Jacksonville area, 11 percent said Bradenton businessman Carlos Beruff, and 3 percent said Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox.

This week's Florida Insiders included:

J.C. Planas, Anthony Pedicini, David Rancourt, Susie Wiles, Towson Fraser, Stephen Bittel, Joe Gruters, Pablo Diaz, Sarah Rumpf, Wayne Bertsch, Alex Patton, Sam Rashid, Ryan Duffy, Robin Rorapaugh, Slater Bayliss, Rich Ramos, Trey Traviesa, John Konkus, Seth McKee, Rodney Barreto, Nikki Lowrey, Roly Marante, Jack Seiler, Stebe Uhlfelder, Rick Wilson, Ryan Tyson, Bill Lee, Gayle Andrews, Steven Vancore, Jim Cherry, Steve Schale, Eric Zichella Tony Hill, Jason Rosenberg, Ron Gunzburger, Tom Scarritt, Jamie Miller, Chris Hartline, Stafford Jones, Jason Altmire, Richard NeNapoli, Peter Wallace, Ron Bilbao, Steve Geller, Tom Lewis, Chip Lamarca, Rich Heffley, Mike Fasano, Darrick D.McGhee, Peter Antonacci, Jason Unger, Robert Wexler, Fred Karlinksy, Mike Hightower, Chris Hand, Scott Arceneaux, Jon Ausman, Mark Zubaly, Bob Sparks, Ann Herberger, Bob Poe, Gus Corbella, Andrew Gillum, Brian Crowley, Bud Shorstein, Barry Edwards, Shannon Gravitte, Clarence McKee, Brad Coker, Pat Neal, Mark Ferrulo, Kevin King, Nick Hansen, David Johnson, Jim Rimes, Karl Koch, Brian Ballard, Aubrey Jewett, Christina Johnson, Jim Davis, Greg Turbeville, Jeff Johnson, Doc Dockery, Eric Jotkoff, Marc Reichelderfer, Jeff Wright, Frank Tsamoutales, Joe Perry, Paula Dockery, Ana Cruz, Andrew Weinstein, Darryl Paulson, Cory Tilley, Greg C. Truax, Nancy McGowan, Adam Goodman, Travis Blanton, Allan Bense, Kathy Mears, Kevin Cate, Dan Gelber, Christian Ulvert, Brett Doster, Jamie Wilson, Paul Mitchell, David Bishop, Michael Hamby, Lanny Wiles, Eric Eikenberg, Pete Mitchell, David Bishop, Michael Hamby, Eric Eikenberg, Pete Mitchell, John French, Jon Mills, Husein Cumber, Marty Fiorentino, Matthew Isbell, Ryan Wiggins, Donald Hinkle, Dave Aronberg, Bernie Campbell, Andy Ford.Karen Unger, Ron Klein, Alan Clendenin, Henry Kelley, Kirk Fordham, John Wehrung, Caren Lobo, Susan Smith, Marion Hammer,Jeff Hartley, Brian May, Alan Stonecipher, Susan Goldstein, Christian Camara, Abel Harding, Meredith ORourke, Jeff Kottkamp, Ron Greenstein, Monica Russo, Ron Pierce, Chris Korge, Jason Roth, James Harris, Geoffrey Becker, April Schiff, Justin Day, Bill Bunkley, Doug Kaplan, Josh Geise, Scott Barnhart

[Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2016 6:36pm]


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