In a bit of good news for conservatives and Republicans, it appears that Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) has scored a TKO against the Democratic challenger for his Florida Senate seat. Rubio met Patrick Murphy on Monday in Orlando for their first debate. The following day, Politico reported that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled all funding from Murphy for the remainder of the campaign.
The Florida race was one of several tossup races that Democrats hoped to win in order to gain control of the Senate. Several weeks ago, it seemed that those hopes were fading. Then came Donald Trump’s sexual harassment scandal and the problem of guilt by party association for sitting Republicans who had endorsed Trump. Now it seems that at least Rubio’s seat in Florida may be safe.
The race isn’t over yet though. Politico points out that even without the DSCC money, the Rubio and Murphy campaigns are evenly matched with cash on hand. The decision means that Rubio will have an advantage since he will continue to receive money from the GOP Leadership Fund that can be used to outspend Murphy in the final days before the election.
Democrats claim that the decision to dump Murphy had nothing to do with his debate performance, but was a strategic call. According to Politico, the party felt that the money would be better spent on Senate races in North Carolina and Missouri where they might be able to knock off Republicans Richard Burr and Roy Blunt for the same cost as attacking Rubio.
Marco Rubio has consistently held a lead over Murphy for the past few weeks, but most polls show the race near the margin of error. The most recent poll, released yesterday but taken before the debate, showed Rubio ahead by only two points.
In spite of losing Florida to Donald Trump in the Republican primary, Rubio is now running ahead of the presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton leads Trump in Florida, a must-win swing state for the GOP, by four points in several recent polls.
Recent Wikileaks revelations show that Hillary Clinton promoted the Trump campaign in the Republican primary while considering Rubio a more dangerous threat in the general election. Polling trends show that Clinton’s assessment of Trump’s weaknesses and Rubio’s strengths were accurate.