Trump’s victory in Florida was the least surprising result tonight, but it was certainly the most impressive and comprehensive. He won convincingly in an opponent’s home state by 18 points and carried every county except Miami-Dade. According to CNN’s exit poll, he won among men by 30 points, and even won with women by seven. Trump won every age group, but was strongest with the older voters that predictably made up the bulk of the electorate: Trump was 20 points up among both voters 65+ and aged 45-64, and those two groups accounted for almost three-quarters of the voters.
Rubio won most of the Latinos that turned out (52%), but they made up just 17% of the electorate, and he lost by 28 with white voters. Trump was also almost tied with Rubio among the small number of non-Cuban Hispanic voters. Trump did very well with the less educated groups of voters, but won every group including postgraduate degree-holders. He led by 20 points or more with college graduates, high school graduates, and those with some college education. Among the last group, his lead over Rubio was almost 30 points. The story was much the same with income groups: Trump’s gaudiest numbers came from lower-income voters (58-21% among $30-50k earners), but his lead was also quite large with middle and upper-income groups. The ideological groups that gave Trump the most support in Florida were “very conservative” and “somewhat” conservative voters. Rubio did best among the “somewhat” conservatives as he often has, but still came up 17 points short.
The senator has often been most competitive with suburban voters, but not so in his own state: Trump won in the suburbs 50-23%. Rubio has also benefited from surges in support from late-deciding voters, but even here he was disappointed. Trump won early deciders by a huge margin, but also won late-deciders by seven points. Even among the 10% of voters that rated electability as the most important quality for a candidate, Rubio lost by 16 points. Rubio was repudiated by almost every group of Republican voters.
Even Rubio’s last-ditch effort to paint Trump as “anti-Israeli” seems to have had no effect. Voters that think U.S. support for Israel should be stronger voted for Trump at a higher rate (48%) than those that think the level of support is “about right” (38%). The former made up 60% of the electorate. Trump’s Florida victory was made possible in large part by voters that want the U.S. to be even more “pro-Israel” than it already is. Rubio’s hard-line complaints about Trump’s statements about being “neutral” in negotiations between Israel and Palestine appear to have fallen mostly on deaf ears. Trump’s voters obviously didn’t buy that he wasn’t “pro-Israel” and for most of them it was probably not that high of a priority in any case.
The most telling result from the exit poll shows why Rubio never really had much of a chance. When asked if they felt betrayed by Republican politicians, 60% said yes and just 37% said no. Rubio actually won the second group by eight points, but was trounced in the other by 37. As a politician, and moreover as a career politician, Rubio was never going to persuade voters that felt betrayed by people like him to support his bid. That’s especially true when one remembers that many Floridian Republicans felt betrayed by Rubio himself.