Washington, Mar 10: Republican front-runner Donald Trump is maintaining his national lead and is way ahead of his party rivals in the crucial Florida State where presidential primary will be held next week, according to the latest polls.
With wins in as many as 14 States, Trump as of now has the maximum number of delegates (458) followed by Senator Ted Cruz (359) and Marco Rubio (151).
In its latest poll, Fox News said on Thursday that Trump was leading in Florida with 43 per cent support from likely Republican voters, followed by Rubio with a distant 20 per cent.
Rubio, who had a dismal performance this Tuesday, needs to win his home State of Florida to stay in the Republican race to the White House.
During a town hall, Rubio exuded confidence that he would win the Florida primary, which he said would change the entire complexion of the Republican primary. "It is true, we haven't done as well in some of those states as we wanted to, but it's going to come down to Florida for me, and it always has in the presidential races," Rubio told MSNBC in a town hall.
"In Florida the only one that has any chance of beating Donald Trump is me. If you don't want Donald Trump to be the nominee, even if you are a supporter of Ted Cruz or even if you're a supporter of John Kasich, you vote for Marco Rubio because a vote for anyone other than me is a vote for Donald Trump," Rubio said.
Political pundits, however, said Rubio's chances are slim. The Republican presidential primary, scheduled to be held on March 15 along with other States like Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina, is considered crucial as it would decide on the party's nominee for the November 8 presidential elections.
According to latest poll, Trump was leading in Florida with 43 per cent support
To win the party's presidential nominee, the candidates need to have the support of 1237 delegates out of a total of 2472 delegates. Florida has 99 delegates and the winner takes all of them, so does Ohio which has 66 delegates at stake.
In Ohio for the first time, Fox News polls said Trump was lagging behind State Governor John Kasich, who has the support of 34 per cent Republican primary goers, whereas Trump has a support of 29 per cent.
If Trump wins all of the delegates in Florida and Ohio, it could knock both Rubio and Kasich out of the race and this would make him almost a presumptive nominee with much closer to 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination.
However, both Rubio and Kasich said they would not let Trump win their home states. Kasich who has so far earned just 54 delegates said his fortunes would turn for the better from a win in Ohio.
"We are going to win Ohio. That's not even a question for me. It's about what we do after that and all the places we have to go. But we're not taking it for granted," Kasich said.
"I mean, I'm working very hard there now, and so are all the team, our team out there. And I'll go down for the debate. Then I'm back and I'll be living in Ohio and all over the state, which is what I always do," Kasich told Fox News.