The good news for Marco Rubio: He's now sitting as high as third place in some polls after a postdebate bump in the past week. The bad news for Marco Rubio: That means Donald Trump is now paying attention to him.
The U.S. senator from Florida has surged ahead in recent weeks, even passing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in some surveys. A CNN poll released earlier this week saw Rubio in fourth place, behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina. That means at the moment, Rubio is polling higher than every single person who has held elected office before.
A new Fox News poll released yesterday also confirms the momentum, with Rubio tied for third place with Fiorina. (A Quinnipiac poll out this morning has Rubio trailing Bush by a point but still shows Rubio rising.)
This is all very good news for Rubio. His campaign was in danger of drifting into also-ran status, but voters gave him high marks in postdebate polls, and that's translated to the actual horserace.
And it's not just nationally where Rubio is experiencing the surge. The senator is now in second place in his home state of Florida according to a poll conducted by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative.
Trump is still winning Florida, with 31.5 percent of GOP voters lining up in his camp (this is the state that elected Rick Scott, after all), but Rubio is now second, with 19.2 percent. Bush has faded to a distant third, with 11.3 percent. The poll reverses a nearly campaign-long trend in which Bush was Florida's favorite Republican son.
Headline reads" Rubio passes Bush in Florida poll" -- Unfair, because Trump destroys them both! Trump 31.5%, Rubio 19.2%, Bush 11.3%— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2015
The only downside: Trump, as anyone who has read his Twitter feed knows, is hyper-aware of all the latest polling. There's never been a candidate in American presidential political history who is so publicly and enthusiastically obsessed with the latest numbers. Trump has noticed Rubio's rise, and yesterday he went on a tirade against the Cuban-American senator at a South Carolina event.
“He’s overly ambitious,” Trump said, completely unaware of the irony. “And I have better hair than he does.
"And I have better hair than he does," Donald Trump repeated, just in case you didn't catch that jab the first time.
"Can we all agree?" Trump asked. "I have better hair than he does."
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Trump also slammed Rubio for running against the senator's former "mentor," Jeb Bush.
Rubio has yet to respond.
As for the hair fight, well, these photos exist.