Rubio and GOP Moderates


Filed Under Latest News on Nov 24 

How much of the GOP establishment – measured by endorsements and fundraising – have switched to Rubio or are about to? Assuming that in a perfect world as viewed by traditional Repbulican stalwarts, Jeb Bush would have been steadily climbing back up in the polls, ready to retake his rightful spot. And given a world with imperfect information – no one really knows what’s going to happen, although sometimes some predictions do turn out to be uncannily accurate – who could have predicted that Jeb would have underperformed in the debates?

Yes, GOP voters and the relevant issues are not what they were a decade ago. But had Jeb showed more skill in the cut and thrust of the debates, he might have been able to hold his own. Or at least not remain at 5%.

So is Rubio now Mr. GOP Endorsements? If the choice – given their political experience – is between Cruz and Rubio, big money does not seem to want to back Ted Cruz. Both have performed well in the debates, but the Texas senator is seen as too divisive. That means Rubio’s advantage in a head-to-head with Hillary is a deciding factor. And his stance on immigration and the hoped for traction with Latino voters is pulling supprt towards Rubio as well.

But guess what? Trump is still leading. Trump’s numbers are not falling and are up slightly from 26% to 28%, according to the latest Fox poll. That’s double Rubio’s numbers. And the only person who really fell a significant amount was Ben Carson, slipping back to 18%. Apparently those stories on West Point did do some damage.

The thing is, if you do break down support among Tea Party voters, Evangelicals, and Conservative Talk Radio listeners, Cruz beats Rubio handily with all 3 groups. Especially with Conservative Talk Radio listeners where Cruz comes in first beating even Trump.

So who are the GOP voters who will propel Rubio into a 2nd place position, ready to finally topple Trump in the final stretch of the nomination battle? At least according to the new Establishment Playbook. It would have to be moderates: the unseen, somewhat-silent-but-sizable minority among GOP voters. Remember Reagan Democrats?

But who do GOP moderates support? Some suggest that they’re with Trump. That his maverick status, the skepticism over his conservative credentials, are what in fact attracts moderates to his candidacy. Even if they’re angry moderates.

Do moderate GOP voters matter? If they do, Rubio may have to win them over from Trump, in order to have any chance of surging ahead of Cruz and leaving Carson to settle in 3rd or 4th spot. That, as they say, is a theoretical at this point.