Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is now the establishment candidate; he has a long list of endorsements from, senators, congressmen and governors. Today in Nevada it is the GOP caucus and now the junior senator from Florida has to start winning somewhere.
Despite frontrunner Donald Trump having a big lead in the polls and looks unbeatable in Nevada. The Rubio team has been on the ground in this state for nearly six months with the hopes pulling the upset by the time polls close tonight.
But today Rubio is downplaying his chances to win the Silver State and seems content to finish second. He wants to win and will work hard to get that first victory but it truly would be an upset if he were to win.
Meanwhile, Trump has momentum after big wins in New Hampshire and then again over the weekend in South Carolina. If he can win in Nevada he will likely win most of the March 1st Super Tuesday primaries.
The game is played it is all about winning delegates, to be precise it takes 2,382 of them are needed to win the nomination.
Neither Rubio nor Cruz won a single delegate in South Carolina, which awards them proportionally based on congressional district. Trump won all 50.
The caucuses on Tuesday and the Super Tuesday states are also proportional, but with varied thresholds. Talking on the Sunday morning political shows Rubio was asked what state he could snag his first win and he pointed to his home state of Florida.
The primary is taking place on Tuesday March 15th the second of the Super Tuesday mega state election dates. “When we get to these winner-take-all states, we have to start winning, because they award all their delegates to one person,” he said. Florida, then, is a must win. “I think that’s true for everyone in this race. And it’s always been true. And we feel real good about Florida, especially now that the race has narrowed.”
According to the highly resected RealClearPolitics polling average in Florida shows Trump leading the pack by 21 points with 40 percent of the support. Cruz is five points ahead of Rubio. The last polls, however, were taken in January, and don’t account for several candidates, including Bush, dropping out.
Here is a problem for not only Rubio, but for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. By March 15th 26 states will have voted and Cruz will have faced Trump in Texas on March 1st and Kasich will join Rubio as Ohio and Florida both hold primaries on the same day.
Rubio needs a win before Florida to prove that he is a threat to Trump, but so does Cruz and Kasich. If they wait around to win their home states then the math to get to the nomination becomes problematic. If no one has beaten Trump heading into March 15th he stands a very good chance of having close to 50% of the delegates in his pocket heading into the second Super Tuesday primaries.
So, until we see wins by someone other than Trump cheering about being second rings pretty hollow. In the words of the great dearly departed NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt “Unless you finish first you might as well finish last.”