Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rubio's Audition Has Just Begun

The Boy Wonder.
The Republican presidential primary has just started to get interesting.  Over the summer, we watched as 17 candidates entered the race.  Like a lion stalking a herd of zebra, the average voter might find it difficult to pick from such a large field of contenders with strong credentials.  The media hasn't helped, focusing the vast majority of their attention on one or two candidates.

Luckily, the debates gave voters the chance to hear from each of the candidates, at least for 8-10 minutes.  The polls have given us a small sense of how the public has responded.

That hair.
Donald Trump rocketed to the front of the pack almost immediately after announcing his candidacy in July and has remained the front runner ever since, although he appears to have hit a ceiling around 30% and his numbers have softened since the second debate.  The consensus seems to be that eventually, voters will coalesce behind someone else to deny him the nomination.

Ben Carson has been firmly in second place since late August, buoyed by his soft-spoken honesty.  But he has gotten himself into trouble more than once, which shows that at best, he is not adept at politics and at worst, he lacks a comprehensive understanding of such topics as foreign policy and world religions.  Republicans love to bash the PC mentality, but they forget that the nominee must be able to win a general election, too.  We need someone who can speak both honestly and sensitively.

You can't deny that she's a fighter.
Carly Fiorina has ridden a wave after her two stellar debate performances and is now challenging Carson for the second place spot.  But as I argued in a previous post, Fiorina, Trump, and Carson are not viable options for a Republican nominee.  As political outsiders, they may have curb appeal to window-shopping Republicans, but once they arrive at the polling stations, voters will only pull the lever for a serious, electable, competent candidate with a proven track record in the field of governance.  Fiorina has the best chance of the top three since she is the most acceptable to the establishment, but I'm skeptical that she can pull it off given her rocky tenure at HP and her failed bid for the U.S. Senate.

Always being compared to his brother.
With Scott Walker out of the race (!), we are left with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in a dead heat for the "real" first place.  No other candidate is currently above 7% in the average of recent polls. 

While my views align most closely with Jeb Bush and I think he would make the best president of any of the contenders, I'm apparently in the minority.  Jeb is the Mitt Romney of the 2016 primary - he is the reliable fallback in case no other acceptable, more passionate nominee can be vetted.  That is, unless or until Jeb can definitively prove that he is worthy of the mantle that has been passed down from his father and older brother.

"Why is it always me?"
We will likely see a carousel of candidates over the next three months as each gets their moment in the sun.  If a candidate makes a big mistake, they will be kicked off the island.  Scott Walker was the first casualty of the serious contenders - he couldn't hold up under the scrutiny and quickly fell out of the spotlight, ending with less than half a percent in the last poll prior to his announcement.

Until the second debate, Rubio was languishing in the middle of the pack along with 8-10 other candidates hovering around 5 percent in the polls.  Since then, he has seen a small but significant surge to an average of about 9 percent.  This is important because it could signal that Rubio's time to shine has arrived.  At this crucial moment, Rubio could either rise to become the new front-runner, potentially even bringing Trump's numbers back to earth, or he could stumble and fall, losing his best chance to make an impression.

Of course, if he fails to rise now, it's possible he could have another chance in a few months, as long as he doesn't reveal a fatal flaw before then.  But chances are, in the next month or so, Rubio will have his best chance to claim the lead, or at least the non-Trump lead.

And if he can do so, he has the greatest potential of any candidate to bring the party together.  He has the highest favorability rating of any candidate within the Republican party, other than Carson.  He can unite the establishment, conservatives, the Tea Party, Evangelicals, and moderate Republicans.  He has passion.  He's young and energetic.  He would have as good a shot as any Republican at winning the general election.  

Maybe you don't check the latest polls daily like I do, but if Rubio is your guy, now would be a good time to start.

1 comment:

Karen Smith said...

Love the Harry Potter vibe! You didn't get that scar on your head for nothing.