Following the last GOP debate, much of the conversation is focusing on the idea that Marco Rubio is the most electable GOP candidate. He’s charismatic. He has some conservative chops. He’s a solid speaker and a great debater. He can supposedly bridge the divide between the various components of the Republican party. All of this is basically true. However, there are several reasons why he would lose in the general election.
It’s important to note that Rubio is currently high on my list of candidates. I am pretty certain that he will be my top choice in 2024 if we win the White House or in 2020 if (God forbid) we lose in 2016. However, he has a lot of maturing to do, experiences to gain, and historical dragons to slay before he’s ready for prime time.
This will be an unpopular sentiment, but I am certain that Rubio would have a harder time defeating the Democrats than three other candidates. The reason that this sentiment is unpopular is because we have a tendency as Republicans to view a candidate’s negative traits that would prevent people from voting for them rather than honing in on their positive traits that will inspire voters. We look for the candidates with the least baggage rather than nominating the candidates that can rally the troops and pull in the Independents and Reagan Democrats.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have known for a while and have demonstrated with President Obama that you win through polarizing, not by bridge-building. We will never see a moderate Democrat nominated again because they have discerned the chemical formula for victory. In essence, they’ve cracked the Presidential victory code. Republicans still push for milquetoast thinking that if we prop up the least-controversial candidate possible that we’ll win.
Remember, George W. Bush ran on an extremely conservative platform even if his actions regarding the economy and other issues were liberal. His campaigns were conservative and unapologetic. Those losses for the Democrats were the wake up calls they needed to crack the code. Those losses gave them the blueprint that gave rise to Barack Obama. A Rubio nomination would reveal that the Republicans haven’t quite cracked the code just yet.
We can see in Rubio’s inability to galvanize the party behind him in any form or fashion that he’s not quite ready. He has the backers, the endorsements, and the general sentiment. Unfortunately, he’s failed to inspire. He has been a lazy Senator and an even lazier candidate. The election was his to win by getting out there and building a coalition and instead he has squandered those chances. The Republican Establishment was practically begging him to take their mantle and run with it.
Today, Marco Rubio is uninspired and uninspiring. That’s his youth. That’s his inexperience. As was noted elsewhere, he “seems more like a sidekick than a superhero.”
I’m very confident that he will be the nominee and President in the future, but 2016 is not his year. He hasn’t made people mad like Donald Trump (who I don’t support) or motivated like Ted Cruz (who I do support). Trump can’t beat the Democrats for reasons other than Rubio’s, but Cruz can. If given the opportunity, a pair of other candidates could as well. Rubio isn’t one of them.
Still, the Establishment is trying to sell us on the idea that he is electable. They’re making the same argument that they made about John McCain and Mitt Romney. Unlike McCain or Romney, Rubio has some strange negatives that the Democrats will magnify if he’s the nominee.
- Personal Finance Irresponsibility: It hasn’t been much of an issue through primary season because it’s a low blow that Republicans normally don’t like to employ. The Democrats will aim as low as they can against the GOP nominee. They will highlight that while Rubio and his family were facing financial distress, he chose to buy an $80,000 boat. They will point out that he “accidentally” used a government-issued credit card for personal expenses. So far, one-liners have been enough to fend off attacks, but if he hits the general election stage, there will be full-blown exposés produced to paint him as the wrong guy to be trying to fix the economy. Credit problems are more damning for a Presidential candidate than marital problems in today’s society.
- He Hates the Senate: Hillary Clinton never said she hated the job she was elected to perform for the people. Bernie Sanders never said he hated the job he was elected to perform for the people. Marco Rubio said he hated the job he was elected to do for the people. The people who voted for him and the publications that supported him are asking him to step down before he completes his only term in the Senate.
- He’s Polling 3rd in His Own State: If he loses Florida on March 15, it will be a rallying cry for the Democrats to demonstrate that the people who know him best don’t even want him as President.
- Too Many Broken Promises: The Tea Party helped to elect him based upon campaign promises. He then turned around and failed to keep many of them. This is common in Washington DC and all of the candidates have flip-flopped on issues, but the Gang of Eight flip-flop is absolutely exploitable by the Democrats. First, he opposed amnesty. Then, he was for it and tried to push it through the Senate. Now, he’s against it once again. Imagine how this single issue will be played by the Democrats. Sadly, it’s not his only broken promise.
McCain had very few negatives but followed President Bush at the beginning of the recession. More importantly, he was milquetoast. Romney had a few negatives, most notably his inability to credibly attack Obamacare after propping up Romneycare. More importantly, he was milquetoast.
A matured and battle-hardened Marco Rubio will be a strong candidate in future Presidential elections, but today he’s a charming version of a milquetoast politically expedient appeaser. He’ll correct that, but he cannot be the Republican nominee in 2016. If he is, we will see four more years of a Democrat in the White House.