No politician has been more politically hacked by his own party this year than Marco Rubio. The young Hispanic Republican rose to prominence by overcoming the odds and defeating Charlie Christ in 2010 for Senate. He was charismatic, young, and best of all, he was a conservative minority. He was supposed to be the savior of the Republican Party. Three years later he was ostracized by the Tea Party for supporting the one thing that could win them 2016, immigration reform. Although Rubio has had a rough time, and despite the rise of Ted Cruz, he is still the leading contender among Republicans.
Let me be clear, if current trends hold up the American public’s last wish would be to have someone from Washington continue running Washington, because consensus shows that our capitols approval ratings are in the toilet. However the Republicans biggest names for 2016 are mostly all located in Washington; as in Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Sen. Rand Paul. If you follow early primary polls Ted Cruz has a huge advantage among Republicans with Rand Paul and Chris Christie right behind him. But election trends rarely are maintained for three years, and if past Republican primaries show us anything, leading early gives no guarantee to winning primaries.
When I say,”Rubio is still in the best position”, I’m sure to get a cry of Tea Party activists and political pollsters who disagree. Most Tea Party members would love to see Ted Cruz become the Republican candidate right now, but if history shows us anything, that doesn’t mean it will happen. So, in order to show that Marco Rubio is in fact extremely well positioned for the 2016 Republican field, we must examine the entire 2016 field.
If you aren’t already aware, Chris Christie is hardly a contender for Republican nomination. Christie has been hammered by the Tea Party over many things, and his reputation as being a bold speaker has backfired among his counterparts. His recent war with Rand Paul divided him from the Tea Party, his actions in 2012 over Hurricane Sandy left many Republicans bitter and blaming him, and lastly his surrender on gay marriage was the final nail in the coffin to his 2016 chances. Chris Christie may be standing by his beliefs, but if he had any chance to win the Republican primary, he has already killed it. Now, Chris Christie could surely win in 2016 if Republicans stood behind him, but they don’t, so he won’t. Christie has no chance to win the Republican primary, and if he does, the Tea Party is almost certain to run their own candidate.
Rand Paul is beloved by Tea Party activists and Libertarian loyalists. His filibuster on drone policy almost made libertarian’s explode with excitement. He is Ron Paul 2.0, and that is his ultimate downfall. Paul is a libertarian when it comes to foreign policy, and is far more left than Hillary Clinton is when it comes to that area. Rand’s stance seems very smart as of now, but to the elderly, those who are typically not libertarian on foreign policy, the stance tastes bitter in their mouths. A almost ignored fact about Paul his is immigration stance, where he quietly endorsed immigration reform, but for almost political reasons, refused to support the immigration bill. Paul, speaking to a Hispanic Christian organization, envisioned 12 million knew taxpayers when he said, “Imagine 12 million people who are already here coming out of the shadows to become new taxpayers.” Isn’t it kind of obvious he would like to support immigration reform? Absolutely, because doing so wins him votes. However, Paul knew the bill would stain whoever endorsed it, so he folded to political wisdom and refused to support it. Did he do this for ideological reasons? No, he did them for political. If Ted Cruz runs in 2016 he will be sure to use this against Rand Paul. However, Paul’s short sightedness will cost him in the general election if he wins primaries.
Ted Cruz is perhaps the most prominent Republican today. His conservative stance during the recent shutdown won him accolades and praise from Tea Party groups, his support in early primary polls shot up, but some suggest he might of peaked too early. Though Ted Cruz has high support in the Republican field, he silently gained a reputation for the Republican who single-handedly shut down the government. His disapproval ratings, according to a recent CNN poll, says 42% disapprove of him. Of course his approval ratings among Republicans are much better, but Republicans do not represent the entire nation. They represent 30% of the nation, with 30% also going to Democrats, and the rest coming from independents. With three years to go until 2016, those numbers don’t bode well on a national scale.
Nearly all major Republican candidates have a flaw, a fatal one. Christie cannot win a primary, Rand Paul alienates the elderly, a crucial voting bloc for Republicans, and Ted Cruz had almost half the nation disapproving of him already. That leaves one man, Marco Rubio.
Marco Rubio recently performed badly in a University of New Hampshire poll, where he only garnered 4% of the vote. On face value this spells bad news. But to any professional pollster, the poll is laughable. The poll only asked 236 likely GOP voters and has a 6.4% margin of error. Any typical poll should have 1000 to 1500 people sampled, in fact that’s one of the first things you learn in a political analysis class. The 6.4% error means we have a 12.8% spread across the board for all candidates. Statistically, the poll should be dismissed. With only 236 people representing the entire nation, its unreliable.
Rubio’s positives come from recent events. The 2013 Shutdown left both Democrats and Republicans stained, and anyone who got involved was scarred. Mitch McConnell has been demonized by the Tea Party and Ted Cruz is demonized by most of the nation. During the entire debate many asked, “Where is Marco Rubio?” Right there was Rubio’s strategy. Though he did have a stance in the debate Rubio was not left preaching from a mountain top. More or less, he was quietly watching hell break lose on all sides of the isle. After the debate ended Rubio took advantage of Obamacare’s mishaps and has won praise for his proposal to delay Obamacare due to difficulties. Rubio has dodged immigration questions which could lead him into a trap, and according to polls by Latino Decisions, he stands to gain almost 50% of the Hispanic vote if he wins. Finally, during the month of October, Rubio raised nearly 2 million, leaving his closest contender at just over 1 million. Rubio is a fundraising machine with immense connections, great communication skills, an inspirational story, and nearly the only Senator to come out unscathed form the shutdown debate.
To end this, Rubio is not without baggage. However he is still the only Republican that could win both primaries and the general election. His story inspires people, his stance on immigration reform has let him surpass the threshold needed for Hispanic support in order to win the Presidency, his fundraising is better than his opponents, and lastly he survived the shutdown. Early polls never give an answer on the future, because in the past they also underestimated Mitt Romney and John McCain in primaries. Early polls also underestimated Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in the national election. History shows they are no indicator to the future. Actions like Rubio’s are. Though Rubio has played behind the scenes, he has let his opponents self destruct publicly while he gained privately, and in the end, that is one of the best ways to win an election.