Florida’s Presidential-Politics Bubble Looks Ready to Burst

A 'For Sale' sign is posted in front of a house in Hollywood, Florida.
Some expensive Florida political properties named Bush and Rubio may be going for a song by the time Floridians vote. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida is famously a land of real-estate bubbles that swell and burst, as far back as the 1920s and as recently as a few years ago. Right now there seems to be a presidential-politics bubble coming out of Florida, whose two Republican presidential candidates are posting a very poor return on investment after spending huge sums of money with little (so far) to show for it.

According to the latest TV-ad-spending update from NBC’s Mark Murray (based on SMG Delta data), early front-runner Jeb Bush and his successor as the great hope of the Republican Establishment, Marco Rubio, had together run through $91 million ($59 million for Jeb! and $32 million for Rubio). The two candidates trouncing them in Iowa, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have together spent just over $8 million. And the entire non-Florida field has spent a combined $36 million. 

The Establishment scenario is that one of its preferred candidates will eventually gain speed once the “lane” is cleared and somebody gets a direct shot at Trump and/or Cruz. But it’s very hard to imagine that either of the Florida-based candidates can survive losing his home state’s winner-take-all primary on March 15, which will come after a southern-tilted “Super Tuesday” on March 1 in which Cruz is expected to do well. 

How’s the Florida primary looking for the home team? Well, a new Florida Atlantic University survey shows Donald Trump at 48 percent in the Sunshine State. That’s 32 points ahead of the second-place candidate, who is not Bush or Rubio but Ted Cruz. Rubio is third with 11 percent, but he’s lost 7 points since the last FAU poll in December. It could be worse: Dr. Ben Carson, who actually moved to West Palm Beach in 2013, dropped from 15 percent to 3 percent since November, and another recent transplant, Mike Huckabee, is still looking up at Carson in the candidate order. 

So how do you regain the affection of the people who know you best when you are getting beaten better than four-to-one in your own state? I don’t know, but there may not be enough money in the entire GOP to buy that much love for these ramshackle properties. 

Bush and Rubio Spending Big, Doing Poorly