A battery of new polls dropped on Wednesday, less than a week before voters in Ohio and Florida decide which remaining Republican will get their state's delegate allocation. These are big prizes: Ohio has 66 delegates and Florida 99, all of which go to whoever gets the most votes next Tuesday, no matter the margin of victory. For reference, that's 5 percent and 8 percent of the total needed for the nomination respectively. If Donald Trump wins both, he's officially halfway to being showered with balloons at the GOP convention in Cleveland.
For Republicans who are not fans of Trump, Florida and Ohio have become fail-safes. To prevent Trump from gaining the nomination, it's critical (though not technically essential) that he lose at least one of the states next week. And to do that, he either needs to be trailing in the polls or the field needs to consolidate to lift one of the remaining candidates past him.
So the new CNN/ORC, Quinnipiac University and Fox News polls in Ohio offer good news. The outlets polled over the last week or so, and Fox News completed its poll on Tuesday. And in that survey, Gov. John Kasich has moved into first place in his home state.
This is not rest-on-your-laurels territory, but it's what the establishment would want to see. A fighting chance. A possibility that those 66 delegates will go to a non-Trump.
The delegate stakes in Florida are higher. (Fifty percent higher, to be precise.) And here's what polls from those same firms show happening there.
This is not what the anti-Trump contingent wants to see. It looks like Kasich is gaining here, too, as Rubio is falling. But there's a huge gap between Rubio and Trump, a gap that no one is likely to close over the next week. Possible! Not likely.
So in Florida, the best option is consolidation. Once upon a time, the idea was for Kasich to bow out and boost Rubio. Now, to beat Trump in Florida, it looks like a better bet for the opposite to happen.
Rubio insists that he'll keep fighting, saying that his name will be on the ballot next week. (Which is almost certainly true; they've already been printed.) Even if Rubio drops out and endorses Kasich, Trump will still likely win the state. But if Rubio stays in and leaves little doubt, it's probably not going to be appreciated by his colleagues back in Washington.