Help me Marco Rubio, you’re my only hope

At 538, Dave Wasserman argues that Republicans are doomed unless they are smart enough to suddenly get their act together and unite behind Rubio:

There are a lot of complex analyses of the 2016 election floating around. My own theory is quite straightforward: If Hillary Clinton is the nominee — and she remains a heavy favorite over Bernie Sanders — her fate largely rests with Republican voters’ decisions over the next few months.

If Republicans nominate Rubio, they would have an excellent chance to beat Clinton by broadening their party’s appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos. [emphases mine] The GOP would also have an excellent chance to keep the Senate, hold onto a wide margin in the House and enjoy more control of federal government than they have in over a decade.

If they nominate Ted Cruz, Clinton would probably win, the GOP Senate majority would also be in peril and GOP House losses could climb well into the double digits. A Donald Trump nomination would not only make Clinton’s election very likely and raise the odds of a Democratic Senate; it could force down-ballot Republicans to repudiate Trump to survive, increase pressure on a center-right candidate to mount an independent bid and split the GOP asunder.

In other words, if you’re a member of the Republican Party who wants to win in November, it’s basically Rubio or bust. The “Rubio or bust” theory relies on a process of elimination rather than an assessment of his biography, skills or ground game.

There are seven Republican candidates polling above 5 percent in Iowa, New Hampshire or nationally. Three of them — John Kasich, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush — are competing for moderate GOP voters in New Hampshire, but their appeal remains so tepid with conservative Republicans who dominate most other primaries that they lack a plausible path to the nomination.

On the other hand, Trump and Cruz are more popular with conservative Republicans. But either could turn into the most disastrous GOP presidential nominee since 1964.

Yep.  I think Wasserman may oversell Rubio’s general election strength a little bit– he’s the Republicans’ best bet alright, and a skilled politician– but economic and party fundamentals still matter a lot.  Honestly, I think so many people are convinced Rubio will still pull this out because it seems so obvious to those of the non-insane portion of the Republican party (e.g., Democrats, plus sadly, a minority of Republican voters these days), that Rubio is such an obvious choice.  Now, of course he may still pull this out, but just because he seems the most obvious and logical choice is far from a guarantee that this will persuade the majority of Republican primary voters.  And right now, a clear majority of Republican primary voters support Trump or Cruz.

Now, if I had real skills, I’d create the Marco Rubio version of this.  But, I don’t.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

8 Responses to Help me Marco Rubio, you’re my only hope

  1. Mika says:

    I went to read the original article because I wanted to know how Wasserman backs this argument: “If Republicans nominate Rubio, they would have an excellent chance to beat Clinton by broadening their party’s appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos.” Yeah, well, overselling a little bit.

    Then I noticed the “The Endorsement Primary” and that was Hillarious when it was presented so simple way, just the numbers, 458 vs. 2 (&1) 🙂

    ps. Lovely clip! Me and my daughter and also her mother started watching Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles just before Christmas. She loved it! A bit too much actually because she wrote to Santa Claus that she’d like to have Lego Star Wars stuff for Christmas present. We had already bought her the most expensive Lego Ninjago thing that was available and another huge Lego Star Wars set would have been too much we thought. So we bought her a Lego Star Wars book instead and kept our fingers crossed when she got the presents. Phew, she still loved the Ninjago set and also the book was success. 🙂 Nowadays she’s into some Lego knights stuff, I’ve no idea what those are but she does. Yesterday we visited local Toys’r’us because she had some Christmas money that her elderly relatives gave to her to spend and when she saw the knights stuff she said: “Finally they have these”. “What?” (that was me, btw.) “I’ve watched some videos from youtube.” “Ok.”

  2. Jon K. says:

    I think extremism comes with other qualities like magical thinking, emotional reasoning, and a tendency to see more support for your side than there actually is. After all if everyone I know personally, read on the internet, and trust in the media is telling me that Cruz (or Sanders on the other side) is the One it just must be true!

    I did hear an interesting point about the Caucus that made me curious. The pundit said that in 2008 college students were not at school for the caucus and we’re thus spread out to many districts. This worked to Obama’s advantage. This time around school is in session. That would concentrate potential groundswell of Sanders support in a few districts near the universities,and potentially limit their impact. Sounds plausible to me, but I am no expert. What do you think?

    • Steve Greene says:

      Yeah, I heard that, too. Based on caucus rules, this did actually strike me as something that could hurt Bernie. As that story pointed out, a caucus is definitely not a primary and Bernie could easily have more people show up to support him, yet end up losing the caucus.

  3. rgbact says:

    Used to be basic logic was to nominate the most conservative person than can win. This year its seem thats switched to nominating the most offensive ex-Democrat that has the worst chance of beating Hillary. I feel for the political scientists trying to figure it out.

  4. Jon K says:

    Your Star Wars reference reminded me that a scene is the German movie Downfall is used often in a similar manner. I googled and wasn’t surprised to find this:

  5. R. Jenrette says:

    The Dems may not hold Rubio’s youth and governing inexperience against him but for sure they will hold his extreme social views against him. That issue can arouse passion and anger on the left, especially with young voters, more than others. No moderates or liberals or traditional libertarians and Republicans want a theocracy. Even an oligarchy can’t be worse than that in limiting individual freedom.
    The Republican candidates for President are united in trying to impose their own narrow religious views on the American people. At least that is the public face. It does seem that those are the bones tossed to the base in exchange for their support for a tax structure and an economy rigged to favor the wealthy.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Yeah, while Rubio is solid, I don’t think he’s quite as strong a general election candidate as everybody makes out because he really is far right on social issues. Despite being less skilled politicians, I think Jeb, Christie, and Kasich would all be better general election candidates.

      • R. Jenrette says:

        All three are strong pro-life and all the rest. I agree with the NY Times that Kasich is the least scary. He is pragmatic enough to have expanded Medicaid in his state. If, in a weak moment, you think Bush would be OK, remember how he acted in the Terry Schiavo case. And, even if you liked Christie, you’d hope he’d pick Kasich for VP in case his weight catches up with him.

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