Democrats’ best friend? Jeb

Apparently, Bush’s “Right to Rise” pack has been working hard on trying to take down Rubio under the presumption that Jeb will be able to pull off his voters and be “the” establishment guy.  Seems unlikely to work, but as Rubio seems to clearly be far and away the most electable candidate with an actual chance at the GOP nomination, this is great for Democrats.  Ryan Lizza on the case:

As Bush sank and Rubio rose in the polls last fall, Bush’s theory of the race was that Rubio, the candidate many mainstream conservatives have championed as their best chance to defeat Trump and Ted Cruz, was his immediate obstacle. The Bush onslaught against Rubio may end up being the most expensive and sustained negative attack of 2016….

But, by late December, the group had mostly given up running pro-Bush ads or mentioning any candidate but Rubio. In “Briefing,” Rubio is depicted as an absentee senator who skipped crucial intelligence briefings after the Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks in order to raise money in California and New Orleans. “Politics first, that’s the Rubio way.” Then, in “Promotion,” the Super PAC continued the attack on Rubio’s missed votes, calling Rubio a “Washington politician” who “doesn’t show up for work but wants a promotion.”

Most recently, the group depicted Rubio as a weathervane who “opposed amnesty,” “flipped and worked with liberal Chuck Schumer to co-author the path-to-citizenship bill,” “threatened to vote against it,” “voted for it,” and then “supported his own DREAM Act” before “he abandoned it.” The tag line was the toughest yet: “Marco Rubio. Just another Washington politician we can’t trust.”

The funniest anti-Rubio ad, which reveals a bit of Murphy’s mischievous sense of humor, is called “Boots,” and features an actor wearing a suit and a pair of Rubio’s famous thick-heeled shoes—a Christmas present from his wife—dancing in front of a psychedelic backdrop to the music of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” The lyrics have been modified:

These boots are made for flippin’
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days young Marco’s
Gonna flip, flop, flip on you
You keep spinnin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep flippin’ when you shoulda not flop
You keep leavin’ when you oughta be votin’
Now what’s work is work, but you ain’t earned it yet.

Ahhh, good stuff!  And doing the Democrats work for them because it is really hard to see Jeb winning this thing:

Bush and his allies can hardly be faulted for pursuing what they believe is their best strategy to secure the Republican nomination, and recently Rubio’s allies have been returning fire with their own anti-Bush ads. But the two sides may end up in a murder-suicide pact similar to the one on the Democratic side, in 2004, when the Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean campaigns tore each other down before the Iowa primaries, allowing John Kerry to rise.

If Bush somehow gets his way and the Republican nominating contest does turn into a two-way race between Bush and Trump, Republican voters would be choosing from the two most unpopular candidates that the party has offered up this year. Trump’s average unfavorability rating is fifty-four per cent, just a point above Bush’s.

Even though it has taken a hit recently, there’s one Republican candidate’s unfavorability rating that has remained relatively low, at just forty per cent: Marco Rubio. It probably won’t stay there, and, each point that it goes up, the odds of a Trump nomination increase. At that point, a lot more Republicans are going to have to shift to an unfamiliar stage in the cycle of grief: acceptance.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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