Is Rubio done?

posted at 11:21 am on February 10, 2016 by Allahpundit

Examine the chessboard. His best-case scenario in South Carolina, which he was aiming to win a few days ago as the capstone on his “3-2-1” strategy, now seems to be a strong third behind Trump and Cruz. If he pulls that off and then wins Nevada, where Rubio has a strong organization, then conceivably he’s back in the game by the time of the SEC primary on March 1st, where he can pick off a few delegates and then focus on winning his home state of Florida. If he wins Florida on March 15th on top of Nevada, he should be well positioned to be the establishment guy in a three-way race with Trump and Cruz — even though both of them will have piled up considerably more delegates than Rubio by that point. The best-case scenario for Rubio, in other words, is that he still wins … but it won’t be any time soon, as would have seemed possible with a big finish last night. It may even take a brokered convention.

But wait, let’s back up. What’s the state of play in South Carolina? Kasich will be there, not winning many votes but fully capable of damaging Bush and Rubio if he wants to attack. Jeb Bush will be there too, emboldened by finishing (a few hundred votes) ahead of Rubio last night. His Super PAC’s still got a ton of money in the bank and he’s got George W. Bush, who won South Carolina twice, waiting in the wings to campaign for him. Jeb isn’t a pushover in the center-right lane there, especially with new doubts among Republicans that Rubio’s the chosen one after his putrid showing in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, conservatives in South Carolina who prefer Rubio to Cruz now have a tough question to ask themselves: If they stick with Marco, are they denying Ted the crucial votes he needs to beat Trump? Trump led by double digits in each of the three polls taken in South Carolina last month — and that was before his blowout win in NH last night. (Of course, it was also before Cruz’s win in Iowa.) Cruz will spend the next week telling South Carolinians that this is a two-man race and that their choice is between Trumpism and conservatism. That message will work on some undecideds. So if Bush is tearing votes away from Rubio on the left and Cruz is tearing them away on the right, how likely is a “strong” third-place finish for Rubio? If South Carolina ends with Trump at 34, Cruz at 28, Rubio at 17, and Bush at 14, what incentive does Bush have to drop out rather than continue on for a few more weeks and keep trying to pass Rubio as the “establishment choice”?

Another way of thinking about this is that there were two possible decent outcomes for Rubio last night even if he fell short of his desired second-place finish. One would have been Trump disappointing and finishing second to Kasich. That would have been read as proof after Iowa that Trump was a paper tiger, and the search would have begun to find an opponent for Cruz in a developing two-man race. Rubio would still be in the mix for that. The other possible decent outcome last night that could have salvaged even a disappointing Rubio finish would have involved Bush cratering to the point where he had to drop out. If, for instance, Trump had actually inched up into the low 40s and Jeb had finished with, say, four percent, that would have finished Bush and left Rubio wounded but still basically all alone in the role of would-be establishment savior. As it is, Rubio didn’t get either outcome he needed. Trump is a legit threat to win the nomination — the strong favorite, I’d say — and Cruz seems to be the only one with a shot of stopping him, precisely the two-man-template that Rubio doesn’t want. And Jeb actually (slightly) outperformed Rubio, giving him a claim to the role of center-right champion against the Trump/Cruz menace. Jeb is ready to play for the rest of the month too: His strategy was designed to ensure he’d have money to compete throughout February and March, when other candidates in the middle of the pack may be struggling for cash. As noted, he’s ready to compete in Bush-friendly South Carolina and he claims to have the best operation in Nevada. There’s no reason to think he won’t go on firing missiles at Rubio for the rest of the month, at a moment when Rubio now can’t afford to have to worry about his left flank anymore.

A more realistic scenario for South Carolina, then, is that Rubio finishes a distant third, possibly just strong enough to damage Cruz and set Trump on the path to the nomination. After that comes Nevada, at which point either Trump or Cruz will have two wins under his belt. Somehow Rubio will need to overcome that momentum and Jeb Bush to finish first or second. If he can’t do that in a state where he’s been eyeing victory for months, I think there’s a chance he quits at that point. The risk of going on and pulling further votes from Cruz in a losing effort, thus enabling Trump, should and probably would weigh on him. Even if he continues on to the SEC primary, though, he’ll have to contend with two candidates in Trump and Cruz who are both strong in the south and at least one of whom will have two victories (and possibly three) by then. Rubio’s only chance at this point might be to hope and trust that Cruz hands Trump a string of defeats, discouraging him into quitting the race, while Rubio focuses on destroying Bush. Cruz is in the race for the long haul, I think, but the establishment will resist him every step of the way. If Rubio can hang on and, by process of elimination, become the “Not Cruz” figure, he can win a bunch of later, more moderate states and claim a lot of delegates. Problem is, it’s hard for me to believe that Cruz is about to pull off a series of victories against Trump. Which means Rubio’s odds depend on winning a war with Bush and then waiting patiently for the “Anyone But Trump or Cruz” chunk of the party to come to him, even while the media’s screeching nonstop about a two-man binary choice between anti-establishmentarians for the nomination.

The other, riskier way he can go about building himself back up is by ignoring Bush and attacking Trump or Cruz instead. Attacking others isn’t Rubio’s thing, though, and attacking Cruz could wreck any chance of a conservative stopping Trump before he becomes the prohibitive favorite for the nomination. Why not … attack Trump instead? Conservatives are begging for someone in the field to step up and do that systematically, and Rubio has little to lose now by doing it. It could elevate him by pitting him against the frontrunner and make Jeb seem petty by contrast in focusing his own attacks on Rubio. Even if it doesn’t work, Rubio will have helped the other conservative in the race by doing so and will have built some goodwill with righties ahead of whatever his next move in politics is, probably running for governor in Florida. It would have been better to have Rubio attacking Trump from a position of strength rather than weakness, but as Sean Davis says, the race is now effectively “Trump versus Anti-Trump.” Why not roll the dice and try to be the anti-Trump?


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Produce the tapes!

NWConservative on February 10, 2016 at 12:55 PM

I will after Trump shows us those tapes of thousands of Muslims celebrating the destruction of the WTC.

Happy Nomad on February 10, 2016 at 1:04 PM

There were. Or did you not see the Middle East?

So produce the tapes!

NWConservative on February 10, 2016 at 1:09 PM

Redstone on February 10, 2016 at 12:59 PM

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Neitherleftorright on February 10, 2016 at 1:09 PM

I hope someone in S. Carolina does bring up his affairs. Trump has been nasty to the field…..now it is time return fire.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Rubio surges!

Nephew Sam on February 10, 2016 at 1:12 PM

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Neitherleftorright on February 10, 2016 at 1:09 PM

Where he has received anything other than negative coverage?

Some of the authors on Breitbart, Eric Bolling on Fox?

The media can destroy Rubio or someone like that, they probably can’t with Trump.

Redstone on February 10, 2016 at 1:12 PM

So I see the Trumpkins have NOTHING to saying about Trump’s philandering.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Learn English you loca.

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2016 at 1:13 PM

Troyriser. I DIDNT mention trumps name in my comment. Do you believe those tenents i listed in my comments are LIBERAL????

Indiana Jim on February 10, 2016 at 1:13 PM

now it is time return fire.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Illegal in the sunshine

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2016 at 1:13 PM

“How can i argue against myself”????? You just did with that sentence. Lol…..

Indiana Jim on February 10, 2016 at 1:15 PM

terry is an idiot, and unaware of it.

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2016 at 1:15 PM

Jeb isn’t a pushover in the center-right lane there

You make me laugh, AllahP, with constant references to the “center-right” as if it’s some enormous and impassioned sector of the electorate. Guess what? Trump owns the “center right.” When you speak of the “center right,” you really mean the globalist donor class, and there aren’t too many voters who fall into that category.

Right Mover on February 10, 2016 at 1:16 PM

Hillary is gonna play the gender card. She’s already doing so. Are we really gonna elect a guy who disposes women like underwear once they get a certain age?

That’s the type of man he is. One of the reason why government has gotten so big is the destruction of family structure. Are we going to elect who made a mockery of his marriages?

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 1:16 PM

Trump philandering?

I don’t care if Trump 69’s with mountain lions and neither will America

After all, no one cared that Bill Clinton was a rapist, why should anyone care about Trump?

Rick Perrys Parakeet on February 10, 2016 at 1:18 PM

I like Rubio, but Christie gave him more than enough warning and all he had to do was not repeat the same fracking sentence. If he has the same thing happen again, he doesn’t deserve the nomination.

Lou Budvis on February 10, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Plus, Trump has a lot of money and a lot of attorneys

Expect whoever breaks this expose to be instantly sued for libel

Rick Perrys Parakeet on February 10, 2016 at 1:20 PM

Trump philandering?

I don’t care if Trump 69’s with mountain lions and neither will America

Rick Perrys Parakeet on February 10, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Then you don’t care about big government. Broken families are one of the reasons why we have big government. Our leader shouldn’t be someone who can care less about marriage.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 1:20 PM

Trump does NOT support single payer but competition.

How many times does he have to say it?

technopeasant on February 10, 2016 at 1:21 PM

To: terryannonline

Let’s elect a man who isn’t a wimp for starters and then someone who realizes that illegal immigration hurts America and Americans.

TRUMP 2016
America’s Alpha Male

why would anyone want a anything but an Alpha Male in the White House?

Is the candidate you support an alpha male? Far from it….among his other deficiencies.

TRUMP 2016
4ever

Pragmatic on February 10, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Oh spare me

How many of these Jimmy Swaggart types preach Christian values and are pounding their secretaries and/or their friends’ wives?

If the truth were known about marital fidelity in America 75% of the country would be disgraced

Rick Perrys Parakeet on February 10, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Troyriser. I DIDNT mention trumps name in my comment. Do you believe those tenents i listed in my comments are LIBERAL????

Indiana Jim on February 10, 2016 at 1:13 PM

No, the tenets you listed were largely conservative (although I fail to see how enforcement of existing laws is somehow an ideologically conservative position); however, I assumed an implicit Trump reference because those listed items have been the central themes of his campaign.

My point is that Donald Trump is another Huey Long, saying whatever it takes to win. Trump has no ideology. We’ve traditionally called such unprincipled people demagogues and hacks, unfit for office of any sort.

troyriser_gopftw on February 10, 2016 at 1:24 PM

Why not roll the dice and try to be the anti-Trump?

Although I’ve become a Ted Cruz fan, I must admit that I’m more and more impressed with Marco Rubio, especially the way he took total responsibility for his screw up Saturday night. To me, that is someone who accepts responsibility and does not weasel away from being accountable to the voters. And I’d really like to see a Cruz/Rubio or Rubio/Cruz ticket!

UPNorthWolf on February 10, 2016 at 1:25 PM

To: terryannonline

what does ‘caring about marriage’ mean?

If that’s your criteria, you will be sadly disappointed when it comes to politicians.

TRUMP 2016

Pragmatic on February 10, 2016 at 1:25 PM

Redstone on February 10, 2016 at 1:12 PM

That is my point. They haven’t yet. There is no need to tear him down, yet. Nor any other candidate. Insofar as the mainstream media is not glowing about him, neither are they for any other republican candidate. The mainstream media is the democrat machine. Once a republican is chosen they will become the target of rage by the machine.

Neitherleftorright on February 10, 2016 at 1:29 PM

If the truth were known about marital fidelity in America 75% of the country would be disgraced

Rick Perrys Parakeet on February 10, 2016 at 1:23 PM

And that’s why the family structure has collapse and America is collapsing. We will not Make America Great until we have a solid family structure. Trump represents liberals who don’t take marriage serious.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 1:30 PM

More important than any of this: can he shake the robot meme?

redandexpert on February 10, 2016 at 1:32 PM

Trump does NOT support single payer but competition.

How many times does he have to say it?

technopeasant on February 10, 2016 at 1:21 PM

I dunno. I guess we all think Trump supports single-payer because he says he supports single-payer. You might see how that would lead one to believe Trump supports single-payer.

Now you’re saying Trump’s saying something else, something different from what he said at first, something more in line with right-of-center voters, something–shall we say it–more electable? How nice. How flexible.

troyriser_gopftw on February 10, 2016 at 1:35 PM

I don’t think Rubio’s done yet. I think he has one more chance before those who want to support him give up on him. What alternatives do they have?

Immolate on February 10, 2016 at 1:35 PM

That’s the type of man he is. One of the reason why government has gotten so big is the destruction of family structure. Are we going to elect who made a mockery of his marriages?

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 1:16 PM

Hillary’s attempt to use the war on women crap won’t work. Her husband is a rapist and a philanderer who was sticking cigars in a 20-year-old intern’s wherever in the Oval Office. Plus which, Hillary is widely despised, and despised but tons of women.

And Rubio has some pretty unseemly skeletons in his closet, too. Not to mention he is a lying phony.

Right Mover on February 10, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Glenn Beck claiming

Beck should grab the next flight out to Vienna and get his brain box scrubbed by the proper people.

Mr. Arrogant on February 10, 2016 at 1:57 PM

Then you don’t care about big government. Broken families are one of the reasons why we have big government. Our leader shouldn’t be someone who can care less about marriage.

Trump’s family isn’t broken like you want us to believe. So your point is lost.

Spliff Menendez on February 10, 2016 at 2:15 PM

And that’s why the family structure has collapse and America is collapsing. We will not Make America Great until we have a solid family structure. Trump represents liberals who don’t take marriage serious.
terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 1:30 PM

You know what else depended on a strong family structure? Monarchies and feudalism. Let’s do it!

Spliff Menendez on February 10, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Oh libs just started attacking Trump on being a yuge philander today. Have you watched this?

I just encountered this video before I even started commenting about. I’m telling you the left and Hillary camp will make a BIG deal of his philandering.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:21 PM

I just encountered this video before I even started commenting about. I’m telling you the left and Hillary camp will make a BIG deal of his philandering.
terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:21 PM

Which would be nullified quickly by Hillary’s acceptance of Bill’s philandering.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 2:25 PM

It’s not just that he had affairs. People make mistakes. It’s the fact that he flaunted them and was so unapologetic about how he treated his former wives…..the mother of his children.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:26 PM

Which would be nullified quickly by Hillary’s acceptance of Bill’s philandering.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 2:25 PM

Yes but Hillary can portray herself as victim in that situation. She wasn’t the one messing around.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:30 PM

You make me laugh, AllahP, with constant references to the “center-right” as if it’s some enormous and impassioned sector of the electorate. Guess what? Trump owns the “center right.” When you speak of the “center right,” you really mean the globalist donor class, and there aren’t too many voters who fall into that category.

Right Mover on February 10, 2016 at 1:16 PM

You nailed it perfectly.

Joseph K on February 10, 2016 at 2:38 PM

Yes but Hillary can portray herself as victim in that situation. She wasn’t the one messing around.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:30 PM

No, she can’t. She was the head of the “Bimbo Brigade” that set out to destroy the credibility of all the women Bill victimized.
Remember, Bill wasn’t only cheating, he was a predator.

And those women are willing to tell their stories.

frost_ on February 10, 2016 at 2:40 PM

When did Ron Howard make this movie? How Hollywood Director juvenille. I’m tellin Aint Bee!

justonevictory on February 10, 2016 at 2:44 PM

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 2:25 PM
Yes but Hillary can portray herself as victim in that situation. She wasn’t the one messing around.
terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Hillary is best advised to not even go there lest Bill’s history get brought up. His is vastly uglier than Trump’s. Hillary’s support for Bill in every single instance of sexual and marital impropriety makes any complaint she launches at Trump on this front hollow and would undoubtedly backfire greatly.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Hillary is best advised to not even go there lest Bill’s history get brought up. His is vastly uglier than Trump’s. Hillary’s support for Bill in every single instance of sexual and marital impropriety makes any complaint she launches at Trump on this front hollow and would undoubtedly backfire greatly.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 2:45 PM

The Left doesn’t care about marriage. The Left do not need the evangelicals to vote for them….Republicans do.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:52 PM

The Left doesn’t care about marriage. The Left do not need the evangelicals to vote for them….Republicans do.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Then your letting your enemy dictate terms to you.

Don’t do that.

frost_ on February 10, 2016 at 2:57 PM

*you’re

My apologies to the English language.

frost_ on February 10, 2016 at 2:58 PM

The Left doesn’t care about marriage. The Left do not need the evangelicals to vote for them….Republicans do.
terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Then we’d be talking about those potential Republican voters whom are not going to cross over for Hillary if marital fidelity is their issue.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Then we’d be talking about those potential Republican voters whom are not going to cross over for Hillary if marital fidelity is their issue.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Yeah but you would be suppressing the GOP vote by nominating Trump. They won’t vote for Hillary but they will stay home. I know I will stay home.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 3:02 PM

Yeah but you would be suppressing the GOP vote by nominating Trump. They won’t vote for Hillary but they will stay home. I know I will stay home.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 3:02 PM

This is an Alinsky method being used against you–“Make them live by their own rules”.

They believe that Evangelical Christians are rigid and inflexible.

They refuse to believe that forgiveness is a central tenet of the Faith.

Why not surprise them for once?

frost_ on February 10, 2016 at 3:13 PM

Yeah but you would be suppressing the GOP vote by nominating Trump. They won’t vote for Hillary but they will stay home. I know I will stay home.
terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 3:02 PM

Well, I hope you would reconsider. I know I wouldn’t particularly like it (I’m a Cruz supporter all the way) but keeping the socialist and corrupt criminal borderline socialist away from the presidency and the multiple SC seats that will come up shortly is far more important than my guy becoming president.

The democrats losing outweighs my preferred candidate winning.

It’s not even close.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 3:14 PM

Is it too late for Marco to run for reelection?

avi natan on February 10, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Trump does NOT support single payer but competition.

How many times does he have to say it?

technopeasant on February 10, 2016 at 1:21 PM

Forgive them. They are deaf with grief today.

katy the mean old lady on February 10, 2016 at 3:22 PM

Well, I hope you would reconsider.

I can’t in good faith vote Trump. I think he would be horrible president.

terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 3:31 PM

I can’t in good faith vote Trump. I think he would be horrible president.
terryannonline on February 10, 2016 at 3:31 PM

I hear ya. But Hillary or Sanders? And then 2-3 SC justice picks from either of those?

This election is no election to act out of spite.

anuts on February 10, 2016 at 4:21 PM

Accountable little punk

Schadenfreude on February 10, 2016 at 4:38 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3