Cuban-American Trump, Carlos Beruff, Leads GOP Field, but Voters Still Want Rubio

Is it possible to run too far to the right in a Florida GOP primary? Nah, probably not. That's what a new poll out this morning suggests, at least.

Because Carlos Beruff, the Miami-born businessman who has earned the nickname the "Cuban-American Trump," is leading a crowded Republican field trying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. That mark of approval comes after highlights such as demanding an end to all travel from the Middle East to the States and then calling Obama an "animal" and refusing to apologize

That's not to say Florida Republicans are exactly rabid for Beruff, though. In fact, the most striking news out of the new poll from Mason-Dixon might be how much those voters still long for Rubio — the same guy they emphatically rejected just a couple of months ago as a presidential contender. 

The poll of 665 registered Florida voters between May 31 and June 2 finds that a whopping 77 percent of Republican voters want Rubio to run for reelection. And 49 percent of voters in general agree. 

"Despite his decision to not seek reelection to the U.S. Senate in order to pursue the presidency, a concerted effort has formed in some circles to get Marco Rubio to reconsider," Mason-Dixon writes in a release on the new poll numbers.

Sorry, Florida. That won't happen. As Politico reports, Rubio has all but told his colleagues there's zero chance of a late reentry into the race even as his D.C. colleagues are close to getting down on their knees to beg him to rejoin the fray. 

That means Florida voters are stuck with a messy field of contenders slugging it out for the GOP nod. And so far, Beruff's brand of shock politics seems to be pulling him above the melee. 

Mason-Dixon finds the Manatee County-based businessman leading with 17 percent, just ahead of Rep. David Jolly, at 13 percent. Rep. Ron Desantis pulls in 10 percent, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera, another Miamian, is just behind with 9 percent. Millionaire Todd Wilcox trails with just 2 percent backing so far.

But a huge percentage of Florida Republicans have yet to make up their mind, perhaps still hoping Rubio changes course and returns to the field. Mason-Dixon shows a whopping 49 percent undecided so far.

The Democratic ticket looks a lot clearer by comparison — and unlike their GOP counterparts, Dem voters seem to choose the center over the fringe.

Mason-Dixon finds party-approved Rep. Patrick Murphy leading liberal firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson by 31 to 23 percent, although plenty of Dems also have yet to choose a candidate, with 43 percent undecided. (Outsider candidate Pam Keith draws 3 percent support as well.)

The lessons here seem obvious: To get above a crowded GOP field in Florida, propose the craziest policies imaginable and watch the support roll in. Florida Democrats, though, are happier with a quiet dose of sanity at the moment even if their centrist candidates don't exactly have the best record in statewide contests. 
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink