While the media is going to hype up the results of the New Hampshire primary for the next few days, the bottom line is the Granite State is not exactly a place where many eventual presidents perform well. In fact, no candidate from either party has won the New Hampshire primary and gone on to win the presidency since George H. W. Bush did it in 1988. So, historically speaking, for either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders to become our next president would break a 28 year streak.
That being said, I wasn’t nearly as interested in the winners as much as I was how the other Republican candidates would finish.
Being that he was essentially anointed as the Republican party’s lone hope to topple Trump (aka the “establishment candidate”) following his strong finish in Iowa, I was extremely curious how he would do in New Hampshire following a rather rough week for his campaign.
Well, Tuesday was a terrible night for the Rubio campaign.
It wasn’t just that he didn’t beat Trump (no one really expected him to), it’s that he finished fifth – behind John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush.
Not only that, but he only got around 10 percent of the vote which is drastically less than the 17-19 percent he had been polling in New Hampshire just about a week ago.
Tuesday night was bad for Rubio on several levels aside from his polling numbers:
1. He couldn’t even do better than Ted Cruz: Let’s face it, Republicans are only going to support one Cuban candidate who panders to the religious right. While the two men are very different candidates, they’re also pandering to a very similar set of conservative voters. With New Hampshire being a state that was much more favorable for Rubio than it was Cruz, the fact he finished behind the Texas senator is incredibly bad.
2. He finished behind Jeb Bush: Similar to how Rubio is battling Cruz for the religious vote, he’s competing with Jeb Bush for the “establishment” vote. Furthermore, because both are from Florida, they’re lumped into that same category as well. So, for Rubio to have performed as the weaker of the two “establishment” candidates – plus the weaker of the two Florida candidates – is one of those “optics matter” moments that can negatively impact a campaign moving forward.
3. He had been given the spotlight for just one week and crumbled: If you can’t handle Chris Christie during a debate, you’re going to get crushed by Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Marco Rubio became a prime target for the first time this entire election season – and embarrassed himself. He looked like a candidate who’s not-at-all prepared to be the leader of the free world.
The only reason why Rubio was seeing a bit of a surge is because he’s the candidate many chose as the “most electable” of the whole bunch. They’ve been desperate for “anyone but Trump” and many Republicans had hope that Rubio might be that guy.
The reality is, Marco Rubio is a very weak candidate. He has almost no real policy ideas, he’s extremely radical when it comes to abortion and he doesn’t have the personality that screams “strong leader” in any way. He reminds me of someone who wants to win the presidency but has absolutely no idea how to actually be the president. And now that he’s been branded a “robot” who spouts off talking points, then hastily repeats them whenever he’s challenged, that’s a stigma which is going to follow him around for quite some time.
Marco Rubio had one week to show the Republican party that he was “the guy” who could take on Donald Trump, seize the party’s nomination and possibly become this country’s next president. Instead, he collapsed under scrutiny and terribly underperformed in New Hampshire.
While all is not lost for Rubio (yet), it’s going to be incredibly difficult for him to come back from this.
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