|Marco Rubio (3/30/15)|
--Ross Douthat, New York Times
Quinnnipiac has just completed a poll running Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, and Ted Cruz against Hillary Clinton in three swing states. Of notable interest, Quinnnipiac’s three swing states are Florida and Ohio, the two closest Obama swing states in 2012, plus Pennsylvania, a state increasingly seen--as noted earlier here--as a 2016 “swing” state, a development Quinnipiac had earlier endorsed. With good reason. If the Republican nominee carries every Mitt Romney state plus Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, s/he will win.
The Quinnnipiac results add to evidence Pennsylvania is in play for 2016. Except for Florida, which is partial to native sons Bush and Rubio, Pennsylvania is the best state for the other five Republicans polled--they all come closest to Clinton in Pennsylvania (Cruz and Christie do as well in Florida as they do in Pennsylvania). And Floridians Rubio and Bush do better in Pennsylvania than Ohio. That’s very strong evidence any GOP victory strategy runs through the Keystone state.
In Pennsylvania, Paul does the best of any GOP candidate against Clinton, actually beating her by 1 point. Kentuckian Paul, the only candidate among the 7 from Appalachia--which covers much of Ohio as well as Pennsylvania--does best in Ohio as well (-5), and performs best overall.
Bush beats Clinton by 3 points in Florida and among Republican candidates, comes in #2 overall. Rubio is third, 2 points behind Bush because he trails Jeb by 5 in Florida, losing there to Clinton by -2 (we believe Bush will in the end lose the nomination; see Douthat's “silver spoon” quote above). Overall, Christie is 1 point behind Rubio in fourth.
Polls like Quinnnipiac’s are the ones to watch. Republicans want a winner, and that means someone who can beat Clinton in Florida, in Ohio, and now, in Pennsylvania as well.
Bush may beat Rubio in Florida today, but Rubio’s campaign has yet to take off. By seeking the presidency, Rubio is giving up his Florida senate seat, a heavy price to pay. He has decided to pay the price, however; press reports say Rubio will announce his White House run April 13 at Miami’s Freedom Tower.
Rubio hopes for a truly fresh start. He’s still trying to recover from a terrible 2013, a year that saw him grouped with liberal Democrats pushing an aborted comprehensive immigration reform plan, a mistake that separated him from most 2016 GOP primary voters. And 2013 was also the year Rubio botched his first national speech--the GOP response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union address--by lunging for a water bottle in mid-stream (see “Saturday Night Live’s” take on Rubio's "watergate" here).
April 13 is a key date for Rubio. In nationwide polling right now, he’s well behind Bush and Walker.