The DSCC confirmed Tuesday that it has withdrawn advertising planned for the final week before the Nov. 8 election. The money is certain to be steered toward Missouri, North Carolina and other states where Democrats think they have a better chance of flipping a seat in their bid to win control of the Senate.
With 10 media markets, Florida is a costly state in which to wage a TV ad war. Rubio also looms as a tough target, having led Murphy in every poll taken since he entered the race in June.
DSCC spokeswoman Sadie Weiner dismissed talk within the Rubio camp that the decision was linked to Murphy’s performance in Monday night’s television debate.
Weiner called that “laughable.”
“Decision was made before that. Patrick did very well in the debate,” she said in an email to the Palm Beach Post.
Groups supporting Rubio are outspending those backing Murphy by a 4-to-1 margin. But the DSCC last spring had pledged to spend $10 million helping Murphy — before Rubio announced that he’d seek re-election.
Since then, the DSCC has canceled all its general election advertising for the two-term Jupiter congressman, who has trailed Rubio in every major poll taken in the race.
Joshua Karp, a Murphy spokesman, said the “race is incredibly competitive” and shrugged off Rubio’s spending advantage. He noted that Murphy has cut into Rubio’s lead in polls, even as the DSCC dropped spending planned for September and now followed up with the latest pullout.
“We’re very confident we’re going to have the resources needed to win,” Karp said.
The DSCC’s move comes even as a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Rubio’s edge in the race narrowing to where he now holds a within-the-margin-of-error lead of 2 points.
Rubio gets 49 percent and Murphy 47 percent in a poll with a 3.8 percent margin of error. Quinnipiac’s survey of 660 likely Florida voters was conducted Oct. 10-16 — before Rubio and Murphy met for Monday night’s televised debate.
Rubio held a 48-to-44 percent in lead in a Quinnipiac poll released two weeks ago and a 50-to-43 percent advantage in a September Quinnipiac poll.
Rubio is running ahead of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who trails Hillary Clinton in Florida by a 48-to-44 percent margin in a poll released Monday by the school.
Rubio does better with non-white voters than Trump. Only 19 percent of non-white voters back Trump in the presidential race, while 33 percent of non-whites support Rubio in the Senate race.
Democratic allies have spent only $5 million on taking out Rubio, according to Pro Publica, which is tracking campaign spending. Republican leadership PACS and outside groups such as the GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund, National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Rifle Association are underwriting Rubio’s race, spending more than $20 million against Murphy.
Palm Beach Post Politics Writer George Bennett contributed to this report.