Right now electability is one of the prime positives of Rubio over Cruz. Rubio has higher favorables, is a better public speaker, is more photogenic, and the press loves him. Contrast this with Cruz who has awkward pauses, doesn’t play as well to the camera, is a self-interested grandstander, and is hated by both the press and the party that he would be elected to lead.
However, about that…
Keep in mind there will eventually be a Democratic nominee and a Republican nominee. If that Republican is Rubio expect the media attention to immediately sour. Rubio will be described as jittery, over-caffeinated, sweaty, and really what’s up with that water bottle? He is nothing like the handsome, well dressed, and well spoken Bernie Sanders. Nothing like the beautiful and almost regal Hillary Clinton with her choral voice. If Rubio is elected he will leave the uninsured to die in the streets, he will spark a regional war in the Middle East, and will cause a trade war with China.
We already know how low Cruz’s favorable rating can go with a hostile media and a relentless attack campaign. We do not know that for Marco Rubio. We know he is constantly described by the media as electable, and the best choice. This is the same media that described Mitt Romney as electable and the best choice only to turn on him viciously as soon as he was the clear frontrunner.
Also, if Cruz is the nominee you can expect the Washington Republicans to fall in line. The fortunes of Senators and Congressmen now follow the President in Presidential voting years. If McConnell runs against Cruz in November we can expect that we will lose the Senate, and possibly the house. Say what you will, but McConnell will defend his majority because otherwise he will be banking on winning split tickets in four of the following: Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Try to come up with a plausible scenario where the Senate wins 4 of those states without coordinating with the Presidential candidate. Seriously, which of those states can you expect to vote for a Republican Senator, but also for Hillary Clinton? How will McConnell run against Cruz’s GOTV effort in those particular states? Frankly McConnell will either lose the Senate (and his leadership) or he will get behind whoever the nominee is. If Cruz loses and those states nominate Democratic Senators the Republican caucus will be rid of important moderates making it much easier to nominate someone like Mike Lee as Minority Leader.
I like Rubio. There are good reasons to vote for him. However, electability is a high risk. We do not know his favorables when the media turns against him. However, the media is now and has already been doing as much damage as they could to Cruz since 2013. A negative media is baked into his rating already, not so for Rubio.
Just a word of caution.