We’re maybe one debate away from Rubio taking a permanent lead over Jeb in the race, I figure.

Is it time to start a Jeb Bush campaign death watch pool? If so, put me down for the day before Thanksgiving.

“Marco Rubio being that far ahead of Jeb Bush is surprising,” said Kevin Wagner, an associate professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow at the university’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative. “Some of the early Florida polling suggested that Bush was in a stronger position.”…

On the Republican side, Trump had 31.5 percent of the Republican primary vote. Rubio was second with 19.2 percent and Bush was third with 11.3 percent…

Bush had a negative net unfavorability of 4.3 percentage points…

Rubio had a net favorable rating of 11 percentage points.

Trump’s net favorable rating was, er, -22.7 points. Even so, he’s ahead of Hillary head to head in Florida, 45.9/44.5, as are Bush and Rubio, both of whom lead her by about eight. (Ben Carson, who finished fourth among Republicans there, leads her by 12.) That’s because Hillary’s not only a weak retail candidate but an increasingly unpopular one thanks to her e-mail scandal. Her own net favorables in Florida, a state that could deliver her the presidency if she wins all of America’s reliably blue states next fall, are -13. That is to say, even though Trump is viewed more negatively on balance, voters there would rather roll the dice on him than stick with her. If I were a “Draft Biden” staffer, I’d be drinking champagne after seeing a number like that.

As is usually true with Rubio, he’s reacting shrewdly to the news of his Florida surge by emphatically downplaying it. He’s had small surges in the polls before, only to slide back to the seven percent range in national polls. No sense raising expectations only to have them disappointed again. Besides, one of the things that killed Scott Walker was how he reacted to his own early poll surge, building a hugely expensive national campaign organization in anticipation of lots of donors flocking to him only to find that he couldn’t pay for it once his numbers took a dive and the donors ran away. Rubio’s running a much thriftier campaign on the assumption that it’s silly to spend big bucks this far out from the first primaries, when voters are curious about outsiders like Carson and Fiorina. Better to sit back, wait for the asterisk candidates and novelties to have their moment in the sun, and then begin spending once voters start getting serious this winter:

His team of paid staff is relatively small, estimated to be between 40 and 50, compared to the 90 Walker had. Rubio’s polling averages have kept him near the top of the non-outsider pack.

“You want everybody looking you as the next president in February and March,” said J. Warren Tompkins, who runs Conservative Solutions, a pro-Rubio super PAC. “It takes a lot of discipline to understand that. You get pressure from inside the campaigns. You get pressure from the Washington financial people.”

On Sunday, Rubio’s campaign sent out a press release declaring: “Marco Dismisses New Poll Numbers,” referring to a CNN survey that had him climbing to fourth place.

He’s also well positioned in the invisible primary too now that Walker’s gone, with as many as two-thirds of Walker’s fundraising personnel set to switch to him as the other electable center-righty in the race. Maybe the best metric that Rubio’s an increasingly serious contender, though, is that Trump’s started to pay more attention to him lately, smacking him yesterday on Twitter for his positions on immigration and Iraq and needling him during his speech today in North Charleston. I thought he’d ignore Rubio and focus on Jeb on the theory that he’s much better off if voters see the race as “Trump versus yet another Bush” than “Trump versus the young Latino guy whom nearly everyone likes,” but oh well. Maybe he thinks hitting Rubio now might take him out earlier, leaving Jeb as the establishment’s only play.