Is Marco Rubio In It To Win It? Does Ankeny Ring a Bell? (Updated)

Marco, you’ve got some convincing to do. That’s what many on Morning Joe were discussing yesterday morning to my surprise. Not one to believe most of what I hear on MSNBC, an investigation of what they discussed was in order.

Is [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] running a campaign to win or running a campaign not to lose? Two completely different objectives when it comes to politics.

First I looked at the polls. I’ll leave the polling and inside baseball on them to the experts here, except to make a few novice observations. While his numbers have remained fairly steady in the last few months, his support dropped 3% in the latest national Fox poll of Republican Primary voters taken after last week’s debate, headline: “Fox News Poll: Trump jumps, Cruz climbs, Carson sinks in GOP race“.

Contrast Rubio’s polling with the other top tier candidates for the last three months, using just the FoxNews national poll of Republican Primary voters:

Name  –  Dec –  Nov – Oct

Trump- 39% – 28% – 26%

Cruz    – 18% – 14% – 11%

Rubio – 11%  – 14% – 11%

Carson- 9%  – 18% – 23%

It’s seems clear to me that Rubio’s numbers are trending in the wrong direction just at the wrong time. What’s more striking is that he isn’t the beneficiary of Carson’s sinking poll numbers whereas Cruz and Trump capitalized and cannibalized his voters within short order.

Update: On Face The Nation this morning, a reporter who has polled the same voters over time, showed a CBS News Poll of which candidates gained previous Carson supporters and just as I thought, it doesn’t bode well for Rubio. Here’s the breakdown of Republican Iowa Caucus Goers:

Move to Cruz 47%

Move to Trump 37%

Move to Rubio 15%

His CBS News polling in IA, again, polling the same voters over time, is Cruz 40%, Trump 31%, Rubio 12%, Carson 6%.

NH Primary voters: Trump 32%, Cruz 14%, Rubio 13%, Christie 11%.


That brings me back Iowa and the Morning Joe discussion. A place called Ankeny which is located in the suburbs of Des Moines. Here’s how one writer at fivethirtyeight.com put it, titled, “Marco Rubio’s Lousy Ground Game In Iowa Will Probably Cost Him Votes” :

There’s reportedly a joke going around among Iowa Republicans that Marco Rubio must be running for mayor of Ankeny, the Des Moines suburb where his sole Iowa office is located. Defying Iowa’s tradition of retail politics, Rubio also rarely holds campaign events outside of that area and is choosing to invest in television ads over staffers and offices in the state. Rubio is making a deliberate gamble that Iowans will brave the cold on his behalf this Feb. 1 simply because they saw his advertisements or debate performances on television, not because they have seen him in person or heard from his campaign.

The Rubio campaign particularly disdains field offices, the storefronts of retail politics: brick-and-mortar locations where volunteers assemble, local mailings are coordinated and paid staffers work late nights. Deputy campaign manager Rich Beeson has argued that staff can “set up in a Starbucks with wireless and get just as much done.”

Again, I’m no expert but everyone knows that in order to win the Iowa caucuses, a candidate must have boots volunteers on the ground. Just one local field office in Iowa? Time will tell soon enough if that’s a winning strategy for Rubio, yet I can certainly understand some questioning his wisdom as it defies conventional wisdom of how to win in Iowa.

So what about New Hampshire? Reports say that he rarely visits the Granite State, another must win, that is generally won based upon meeting and greeting the folks. Yet he’s voting present there too. Cheap shot maybe, but the truth hurts and if he’s not there, he won’t get the votes.

Fast forward to Florida on March 15th, winner take all, after the big SEC Primary on March 1st that Cruz is actively campaigning in all the states but Texas via a whirlwind tour in the next coming days ahead of any votes being cast. As streiff pointed out, one new poll had Rubio and Bush nearly neck and neck, with just a two point margin, Rubio 15% to Bush 13%. And there is no doubt in my mind that no matter what happens in the early states, neither Marco or Jeb will drop out before the Florida primary, which only helps Trump and Cruz by splitting the vote. Or visa versa with them in it, Rubio won’t get any delegates of the winner take all pot…in his home state.

I’ve been expressing my doubts for some time now that Rubio doesn’t have a path to victory. If he doesn’t win Iowa or New Hampshire, then what? Trump is way ahead in South Carolina and Nevada. Meanwhile, Cruz is building a firewall in the SEC Primary just in case he doesn’t win the early states. And it seems I’m not alone with regard to Rubio’s path to victory being in doubt, from the NYT’s, titled, “Fretful Backers Push Marco Rubio to Pick a Must-Win Early Primary State”:

Some Rubio backers in the first four states to vote — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — are voicing concern about whether Mr. Rubio is leaving voters there with the impression that he does not need them to win. And some of Mr. Rubio’s own aides are now arguing privately that they should do more to push back against the belief that he is running an indifferent campaign before it becomes too widespread.

“The campaign efforts for Marco Rubio in Iowa can very easily be perceived as wanting to place in the top three in the caucus and not necessarily to win,” said Kenney Linhart, a pastor in Des Moines who is supporting the Rubio campaign. […]

From the Rubio campaign’s perspective, not putting a marker down yet in any state means not having to set expectations that might not be met. His advisers do not want to face the possibility of fading in a state they said they could win. And they have told supporters and donors that Jeb Bush’s surprisingly lackluster campaign left them with more time to make their move.

“We’re doing things differently,” said Bobby Kauffman, a Republican state senator in Iowa who is helping the Rubio campaign. “People don’t like things being done differently.”

Well guess what, Trump is doing things differently too and he’s way ahead in the polls. But Trump can afford to do things differently when he’s a master at public relations and owns the media. If we needed anymore proof, the commentators during the Democratic debate just said Trump was radio silent during the debate instead of live tweeting like he normally does, but not Jeb. He gets press for saying nothing!!! Who gets that kind of attention?

Cruz is doing things differently too by campaigning in the SEC states to create not only a firewall against the first few states, but to gobble up the most delegates against Trump.

Again, I ask, what is Rubio’s path to victory? Does he have one or is he basing his victory on charisma with a nice smile and good head of hair? Maybe he’s counting on hope and change for a new generation of America per his theme, but hope and hair does not make a winning strategy.

I don’t support Rubio for president due to his lack of experience but I’m not against him either. So I’ll give him a few words of advice. If he wants to win, he needs a target goal. Pick a state, any state. He should own his convictions and if that means a path to citizenship or amnesty by any other measure, which he was for it before he was against it, then he should sell it. He can’t and shouldn’t walk away from what he believes, even if it’s politically incorrect.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29

We all know the RNC autopsy said Republicans must win over more Hispanics. He’s Hispanic and could be the best salesman ever for our Party even though I disagree with him on his old bill but also with his new I-Squared bill. Own it Marco and you may be rewarded.