This post was updated
All the networks have projected Donald Trump is the winner of Florida’s Republican primary, dashing Florida’s native son Sen. Marco Rubio’s hopes that he will be able to turn his campaign around.
Florida had been Rubio’s safety net in theory, the best chance the freshman senator had to recalibrate his faltering candidacy. Now, Trump is expected to win the state’s 99 delegates, making it very hard to stop Trump now.
Rubio announced he was suspending his campaign in a press conference following the news.
According to TPM’s PollTracker Average, Trump’s lead was safely in the double digits heading into the primary with Rubio behind by nearly 22 points.
As pointed out by Five Thirty Eight, Trump always had the advantage in Florida with every poll showing this cycle showing he edged out Rubio. Unlike earlier contests, Florida is a winner-take-all primary system making it a major victory for Trump Tuesday.
Now the focus will turn to whether Rubio can rationalize remaining in a race where he cannot even win his home state. Rubio has won Minnesota and Puerto Rico, but he had based his candidacy on the Florida prize. Rubio had said repeatedly prior to the contest that “the winner of the Florida primary next Tuesday will be the nominee of the Republican Party.” However, if Rubio exited, that could put more pressure on remaining candidates in the race to begin winning more decisively against Trump in order to siphon away delegates from him.
In the final days of the campaign, Rubio tried to paint a vote for him as a vote for possibility and one for Trump as a dangerous move for the country. While Rubio once tried to insult his way ahead of Trump, the Florida senator said he came to regret that decision. On the final night before the primary, Rubio told a crowd “Leadership is not about going to angry and frustrated people and saying, ‘you should be even angrier and more frustrated, and you should be angry and frustrated at each other,'” Rubio said according to CNN.
“That is not leadership. You know what that is? That’s called demagoguery, and it is dangerous,” Rubio said.