Florida Insider Poll: Video is fatal to Trump's campaign
A majority of Florida's savviest political insiders think the Access Hollywood video is fatal to Donald Trump's campaign.
And nearly half of the Republicans surveyed in the Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll reached that conclusion.
Overall, 56.5 percent of the 155 people surveyed think the lewd, aggressive comments have ruined any chance for Trump, including about 46 percent of Republicans. The poll was conducted after last night’s debate.
“I'm so over Trump and 2016,” said a Republican. “When my son asked me what 'grabbing someone by the pussy' means, it killed me. I hate everything about this election. America deserves better.”
There is little support for Trump's counter attack on Bill Clinton, with 69 percent of respondents disagreeing it was a smart move.
Overwhelmingly, the insiders think Hillary Clinton will win Florida. Seventy-nine percent made that prediction, including 63 percent of the 81 Republicans who completed the survey.
But despite that dark view, the insiders have mixed feelings about the damage Trump could do to other candidates. Asked if Sen. Marco Rubio would be wise to renounce any support for Trump, 58 percent of Republicans said no. Democrats and independents offered an emphatic yes.
Collectively the insiders think the video scandal will hurt Rubio somewhat. Given three choices of “a lot,” “some” and “a little” their responses were: 8 percent, 46 percent and 46 percent.
Rubio, however, remains the clear favorite to win re-election: 80 percent of the insiders said they expect he will beat Democrat Patrick Murphy.
"Despite being sucker punched by the DSCC, Murphy has an opportunity here to finally get Rubio's support of Trump to serve as an anchor," said a Democrat. "He has (just) enough money to get his message out but it has to be perfect."
Asked if Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi should withdraw their support for Trump, 53 percent overall said yes while 47 percent said no.
An independent: “If Bill Clinton's presidency taught me anything, it is that sexual scandals are not politically fatal. And Trump has repeatedly shown that normal political calculus does not seem to apply to him. Having said that, time is growing short for Trump to change the narrative of the campaign and get the focus back on Hillary Clinton.”
A Republican: “Anyone that says the election is November 8th is living in the past. Ballots are being cast across the state. In two weeks 25-30% of the vote will be locked in. The video broke right as these ballots were hitting mailboxes. Donald Trump has run a campaign of exclusion and he has only narrowed his support in the last 72 hours. We can't forget Trump won the Republican primary in Florida, Rubio can't afford to alienate the Trump base. Rick Scott should be a leader and protect his 2018 electability and withdraw his support. As a woman, Pam Bondi should have already assumed a leadership role by withdrawing her support. Unfortunately, she is locked in by some sketchy relationship with Trump and issues surrounding her official duties as Attorney General. Patrick Murphy has been closing the gap for the last few weeks. I weakened GOP turnout should be sufficient to push him over the line but it will be close."
A Republican with tea party ties. “The GOP establishment is making another unforced error by distancing themselves from Trump. The GOP E is so far disconnected from their base they do not understand Trump's appeal ..."
A Democrat: “Trump is continuing to push the limits of how much voters and the establishment will tolerate his antics. Republican leaders allowed this charade to go on far too long and in a few weeks we will get to see just how much their negligence will cost them down ballot.”
Times political editor Adam C. Smith and staff writer Connie Humburg contributed to this report.