Now playing
01:33
Meet Marco's (digital) media maestro
MELBOURNE, FL - MARCH 14:  Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) greets supporters while campaigning at That Little Restaurant March 14, 2016 in Melbourne, Florida. Florida holds its presidential primary tomorrow.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, FL - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) greets supporters while campaigning at That Little Restaurant March 14, 2016 in Melbourne, Florida. Florida holds its presidential primary tomorrow. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
01:27
CNN projection: Rubio wins Florida primary
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (left) confers with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (right) as U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee October 31, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (left) confers with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (right) as U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee October 31, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
03:04
Rubio, McCain test Trump's down ballot impact
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28:  U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) listens during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework January 28, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A group of bipartisan senate members have reached to a deal of outlines to reform the nation immigration laws that will provide a pathway for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country to citizenship.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) listens during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework January 28, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A group of bipartisan senate members have reached to a deal of outlines to reform the nation immigration laws that will provide a pathway for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country to citizenship. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
05:52
Rubio: Why I'm against Collins gun control amendment
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) share a moment during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework Monday.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) share a moment during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework Monday.
PHOTO: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Now playing
01:08
Rubio says it's a 'safe assumption' he will run again
Marco Rubio on The Lead
Marco Rubio on The Lead
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:16
Rubio: Plagiarism controversy doesn't matter
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:25
Marco Rubio: Istanbul airport attack 'ISIS directed'
PHOTO: Senate TV
Now playing
03:28
Rubio discusses decision to leave Senate
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:49
Marco Rubio: Not God's plan that I be president in 2016
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:59
Rubio says Trump picking him for V.P. would backfire
OKATIE, SC - FEBRUARY 11:  Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks a campaign town hall meeting at the Sun City Hilton Head
OKATIE, SC - FEBRUARY 11: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks a campaign town hall meeting at the Sun City Hilton Head's Magnolia Hall February 11, 2016 in Okatie, South Carolina. Earlier in the week Rubio placed fifth in the New Hampshire primary, behind fellow GOP candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump, who won with 35 percent of the vote. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/File
Now playing
01:22
Rubio: Jeb's lock on Florida money was costly 2016 hurdle
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14:  Republican presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) participate in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) participate in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Now playing
03:35
Rubio says he walked into 'trap' laid by Christie in N.H. Debate
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06:  Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) participate in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News, the Independent Journal Review and Google, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) participate in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News, the Independent Journal Review and Google, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
03:39
Rubio on running against one-time mentor Jeb Bush
marco rubio trump attack embarrassed sot_00001028.jpg
marco rubio trump attack embarrassed sot_00001028.jpg
Now playing
00:59
Rubio 'embarrassed' by his personal attack on Trump
Now playing
01:30
Miami's Cubans discuss Sen. Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio Trump rally violence election sotu_00000000.jpg
Marco Rubio Trump rally violence election sotu_00000000.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:29
Rubio: Someone could die at Trump rally
rubio supporting gop nominee carroll sot nr_00011913.jpg
rubio supporting gop nominee carroll sot nr_00011913.jpg
Now playing
01:56
Rubio: 'I'll support nominee, but it's getting harder'
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:31
Rubio to Trump: I am correct, not politically correct
CNN Republican Debate at the University of Miami.
CNN Republican Debate at the University of Miami.
PHOTO: Edward M. Pio Roda/CNN
Now playing
02:35
Donald Trump, Marco Rubio spar over Cuba
OKATIE, SC - FEBRUARY 11:  Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks a campaign town hall meeting at the Sun City Hilton Head
OKATIE, SC - FEBRUARY 11: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks a campaign town hall meeting at the Sun City Hilton Head's Magnolia Hall February 11, 2016 in Okatie, South Carolina. Earlier in the week Rubio placed fifth in the New Hampshire primary, behind fellow GOP candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump, who won with 35 percent of the vote. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/File
Now playing
01:02
Marco Rubio 'not proud' of some Trump attacks
rubio mocks trump tweets rally sot ath_00023314.jpg
rubio mocks trump tweets rally sot ath_00023314.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:38
Rubio mocks Trump at Dallas rally
cnn houston debate recap origwx nws_00001511.jpg
cnn houston debate recap origwx nws_00001511.jpg
Now playing
01:30
CNN's Houston GOP debate in 90 seconds
marco rubio anti-establishment record dnt tuchman ac_00010517.jpg
marco rubio anti-establishment record dnt tuchman ac_00010517.jpg
Now playing
02:00
Marco Rubio looks to avoid 'establishment' label

Story highlights

His best-case scenario is to finish second to Donald Trump, again

Rubio's state chairman is Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, a GOP star in Nevada and one of the state's most prominent Mormons

(CNN) —  

Marco Rubio has one of Nevada’s best political teams on his side. He has a personal history in the state where he spent six years of his childhood. And he’s picking up endorsements and donors after rival Jeb Bush dropped out of the race.

But heading into Tuesday’s Nevada Republican caucuses, Rubio’s best case scenario is a second place finish to Donald Trump. Again.

“It would take a miracle for him to finish any higher than second,” said veteran Nevada journalist Jon Ralston. “He’s got a very, very good ground game run by some very smart people. … They know what they’re doing.”

RELATED: Poll shows Trump on top in Nevada

Polling in Nevada is notoriously unpredictable. But CNN’s most recent poll in the Silver State put Trump way ahead of the field, with Rubio in a tenuous second place.

In the February 17 poll, which carried a margin of error of 6.5 percentage points, Trump was backed by 45% of likely GOP caucusgoers, Rubio was at 19% and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was at 17%. Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich trailed in the single digits.

Rubio said he feels good about the state and “confident” about the race, but doesn’t take it for granted because of his connection to it.

“Obviously I have ties to Las Vegas that run deep given my time growing up here. … but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough to simply be a determinate factor in the caucus,” Rubio said Monday in Nevada. “I think it’s going to be like every other candidate that’s coming in, we’re going to have to compete hard.”

Rubio would seem to be very well suited to Nevada. For his ground game, he hired Mike Slanker and Jeremy Hughes, veteran political operatives in the state who have worked with virtually every successful Republican elected official, including the rising GOP star Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Rubio’s state chairman is Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, another top Nevada Republican and one of the state’s most prominent Mormons.

In recent days, Rubio has picked up the support of Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who previously backed Bush, and Nevada Reps. Mark Amodei and Cresent Hardy. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who endorsed Rubio a few weeks ago and is a Mormon, has been deployed in the state ahead of Tuesday’s caucuses as well. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, also Mormon, told CNN’s Manu Raju on Monday that he is also backing the Florida senator.

Rubio used a similar strategy of prominent endorsements in South Carolina, where he narrowly beat Ted Cruz for the second place spot in Saturday’s primary.

But in Nevada, he can also highlight his local roots. Rubio lived in Las Vegas for a stretch of his childhood, from third to eighth grade, a fact he often mentions in his family-centric stump speech. He is also the son of Cuban immigrants – a fact he highlights in this state, which is almost 30% Latino.

The Florida senator has been making inroads with the state’s key Mormon population, in part through his endorsers. Rubio’s family also briefly joined the Mormon church when he was a child, giving him familiarity with the community. In the 2012 GOP Nevada caucus, 25% of the electorate were Mormons according to entrance polls, brought out in part by Mormon candidate Mitt Romney.

“I think that Nevada is well-suited for Marco Rubio’s strength, which is he appeals to a very broad section of the electorate,” Hutchison said. “We’re not focused on one particular group. But I will say as a member of the church, Marco Rubio is very appealing to members of the Mormon faith. He talks a lot of the importance of family and how government cannot replace family. We believe very deeply that family is the most important unit in society.”

RELATED: The hunt for Bush donors

Alongside his conversations about religion, Rubio has been sprinkling talk of eminent domain into his stump speeches in recent weeks, a key issue for conservatives in a state heavy on federal lands.

Rubio’s campaign strategy is built on staying in the delegate race until the other candidates drop out and he can consolidate their support. Bush bowed out Saturday out after a dismal result in South Carolina. He has yet to endorse and a handful of his donors and supporters have publicly joined the Rubio camp so far, but the campaign expects to pick up much of his support going forward.

Nevada will be Rubio’s first opportunity to prove he can consolidate the establishment lane of the party, though Bush had only been polling at 1% in the Silver State and Kasich has pledged to stay in the race through early March, at least.

Anything can happen in Nevada’s caucus, experts say. Turnout is notoriously low and the evening caucus set-up is confusing, introducing unpredictability and making organization all the more important.

“It’s all about the ground game and all about the grassroots,” Hutchison said. “We’ve been focused on that.”