Trump leads tight race in Florida, says new poll
© Greg Nash

A new poll shows a tight race for the Republican primary in Florida, with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE in the lead, but five candidates showing double-digit support.

All five candidates are within 10 points of each other in the survey, released by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute (PPI) on Thursday.

Trump maintains his lead in the state with 24.4 percent, followed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush with 16.9 percent, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina with 15.6 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump walks a tightrope with comments on NATO Progressive politics have done nothing to help black America Is civility in America really dead? MORE with 15 percent and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit GOP senator: We should accept Trump's 'apology' for Russian election interference comments Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws MORE (R-Fla.) with 14.9 percent.

The only other candidate to draw more than 2 percent was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who won 4.3 percent.

Despite his lead, pollsters say Trump's ceiling is low due to his high unfavorability rating in the state.

“While Trump is in the lead, his high unfavorable rating and the 30 percent of respondents in the poll who said they would not vote for him suggests there is a low ceiling of support for him in Florida,” Jacksonville University Political Science Professor Paulina S. Rippere said. “As candidates drop out and the field narrows, the poll results indicate that these voters will go to other candidates, and not to Trump.”

Trump has the lowest favorable-unfavorable margin, with 50.1 percent of voters seeing him favorably and 40.3 percent unfavorably. Rubio has the best margin between those who view him favorable versus unfavorably, followed by Carson, Fiorina and Bush.

Republican voters in Florida also expressed a preference for political outsiders rather than Washington insiders.

Respondents said they preferred candidates with business as opposed to government experience by a 44.6 percent to 18 percent margin. A large majority of 66.7 percent did not see lack of prior elected office as a hindrance to becoming president.

With 99 GOP delegates at stake, the Florida primary represents a crucial battleground in the Republican nomination process.

The PPI poll surveyed 585 registered Florida Republicans in cellphone and landline calls from Sept. 17 to Sept. 22. The margin of error for the sample is 4.1 percent.