Marco Rubio falls to Donald Trump in Virginia, ruining his Super Tuesday

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Marco Rubio: 'No Place for KKK'

Dashing Marco Rubio's hopes of pulling off a surprise victory over Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, primary voters in Virginia narrowly backed the billionaire businessman over the Florida senator.

The Associated Press called the state for Trump at 8:53 p.m. Eastern.

Though pre-primary polling had given Trump a wide lead over the GOP field, early exit polling showed Rubio within striking distance in the Old Dominion — raising the prospect that the establishment-oriented Republican would upset Trump to score his first-ever victory in a nominating contest.

But while Rubio trounced Trump in the affluent, highly educated Northern Virginia suburbs, it wasn't enough to overcome Trump's strength in more conservative and rural areas.

RELATED: 10 facts about Marco Rubio

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10 Facts About Marco Rubio
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Marco Rubio falls to Donald Trump in Virginia, ruining his Super Tuesday

1. His parents, Mario and Oria, are Cuban immigrants.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

2. Attended Tarkio College for one year on a football scholarship before he later transferred to Santa Fe College.

(Photo by Phil Coale/AP)

3. When he was sworn into office in 2011, he said that he owed $100,000 of student loans which he finally paid off in 2012.

(Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

4. His wife of 17 years, Jeanette, is of Colombian descent and was once a Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

5. He went viral with a sip of water. Rubio gave the official Republican reaction to the State of the Union in 2013, but the only detail most people remembered was the moment in which he became so parched that he reached for a water bottle to quench his thirst.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

6. Though he was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church, he was also baptized as Mormon later in childhood when his family lived in Las Vegas. He is now a practicing Catholic.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

7. He teaches political science at Florida International University in Miami.

(Photo by Charles Ommanney for the Washington Post via Getty)

8. He says the first concert he ever attended was a Prince show.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty)

9. His family used to call him Tony, which came from his middle name Antonio.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

10. Was speaker of the Florida House before he was a U.S. Senator.

(Photo by Phil Coale/AP)

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For Rubio, the stakes in Virginia were far higher. With his commanding lead in the delegate count, Trump could have sustained a loss in the state, even if the self-styled "winner" would prefer to run the table. But Rubio needs to show he can do more than merely place second to the frontrunner, and a win in Virginia may have provided a jolt of momentum to his campaign heading into the must-win Florida primary on March 15, where the winner will claim all 99 delegates.

Polling currently shows Trump solidly leading Rubio in the Sunshine State.

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