Archive for the ‘Marco Rubio’ Category

After Super Tuesday is a Brokered Convention on the Horizon?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Originally published at EveryJoe

Supporters of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have spent the past couple of months making the case that their preferred candidate is in the best position to dethrone Trump. Backers of the two candidates have made compelling arguments. And as I noted prior to the polls closing on Super Tuesday, many people made calculated voting decisions with the purpose of stopping Trump, depending on how the polling looked in their state, rather than necessarily picking their favorite candidate.

As a Texan, I admit to doing this myself, reluctantly pulling the lever for Cruz despite months of criticizing him for his appeasement of Trump. Although Trump ultimately swept the Super Tuesday states of Georgia, Vermont, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Virginia, while Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska went for Cruz and Minnesota went for Rubio, Trump hasn’t yet earned enough delegates to be the Republican nominee outright. This has stoked talk of a possible brokered Republican National Convention, which would lead to a floor fight over which candidate is nominated.

As Jim Ellis of Ellis Insights explained:

Though Trump has a clear lead in delegates, in no state has he obtained majority support, and in only three did his victories top 40 percent. Therefore, in all but Massachusetts and Alabama, more than 60 percent of voting Republicans have chosen another candidate. Conversely, of the committed delegates through the various state apportionment systems, Trump has secured 46.4 percent of the available delegates.

It appears the March 15 primary day will likely tell the tale. Should Trump win the key Winner-Take-All states of Florida (99 delegates) and Ohio (66 delegates), he will likely be unstoppable.

On the other hand, if his three major opponents strategically form an alliance and allow Rubio to challenge Trump virtually one-on-one in Florida, Kasich to have an unencumbered chance in Ohio, and Cruz the same in North Carolina (also on March 15), and they successfully top the leader in all of those places, the brokered convention becomes a clear reality.

This presents an interesting scenario to be sure – but it doesn’t seem as though Cruz would be willing to dial back in Florida. After all, Rubio campaigned in Cruz’s home state of Texas – and he still came in a distant third place with 17.7% of the vote to Cruz’s 43.8% and Trump’s 26.7%. Nevertheless, the strategic alliance route to prevent a Trump nomination, if possible to obtain, seems like the best option at this point, especially because Rubio doesn’t show any signs of heeding Cruz’s call for him to drop out of the race.

The truth is, polling shows, as I’ve suspected, that many of Cruz’s supporters would support Trump before Rubio. I assume this has to do with “anti-establishment” sentiments and hardline immigration views. As Kate Grumke wrote at Rare, “When it comes to second choices, more Cruz supporters say they would switch to Trump over Rubio (30% to 21%), according to an NBC News/Survey Monkey poll. But Rubio supporters would actually go to Cruz over Trump (28% to 9%). And Rubio and Cruz are almost tied for second place in many of the upcoming states, which doesn’t exactly pick a clear candidate to drop out.”

I hate to admit it but, as I wrote after the Nevada caucus, it seems like a Trump nomination is highly likely at this point, no matter what the other candidates do. A brokered convention is hypothetically possible but Rubio will have to exceed his polling in Florida by miles. Currently, Real Clear Politics has Trump with 43.3% of the vote in Rubio’s home state, who’s in second with 23.7%. Turns out that fellow Floridian Jeb Bush’s departure didn’t do too much for the junior senator.

If Trump is in fact the nominee, what this means for the future of the Republican Party is still anyone’s guess. As I wrote recently, I tend to believe that Trump won’t open the door to the kind of radical change that would blow up the GOP, as some libertarians and anti-establishment conservatives hope. More likely is that the Party will, with some exceptions, line up behind him and defend his big government agenda. I believe that Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump, and the way he stood behind him on Super Tuesday, is indicative of that.

It’s true that some high profile elected Republicans are coming out and saying they won’t support Trump if he’s the nominee. Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia are four such men. But will the rebels be enough to drive the Party? Both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, the leaders of the GOP in congress, are currently struggling with this – yet have both said they’d support the eventual nominee. Realistically, nobody knows what will come next.

After South Carolina, Can Anybody Stop Trump?

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

It’s a question on the minds of anyone concerned about the Republican Party’s future: How do we stop the hostile takeover of lifelong leftist Donald Trump? Trump has now won decisively in two very different early states: New Hampshire and South Carolina. And while his support seems to have a ceiling of 35% of the Republican primary electorate (with those who oppose him doing so viscerally) he seems to be the beneficiary of celebrity name ID, the fact that people want a perceived “outsider,” and a crowded field.

In South Carolina, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were nearly tied for second place, with a combined total of 44.8% support. Trump received 32.5% of the vote. And Jeb Bush, who came in fourth then proceeded to suspend his campaign, received 7.8%. This leaves many speculating as to where Bush’s support will go, and if the Republican Party can stop Trump without uniting around one alternative to him. With Ben Carson (7.2%), John Kasich (7.6%), Cruz (22.3%), and Rubio (22.5%) still in the race, is it possible to take Trump out during the March 1st Super Tuesday contest?

Philip Bump at the The Washington Post wrote a story about where the supporters of various candidates will go as the field narrows. Granted, the survey he cites is far from scientific, but it provides a basic insight into what could happen as voters realign. This is a particularly pertinent question now that Bush has dropped out. As Bump wrote:

“The only way that Donald Trump will not win the GOP nomination, it seems, is if the voters who support Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich rally around Kasich or Rubio moving forward. This isn’t foolproof: Adding up Rubio, Bush and Kasich in national polling, for example, totals 30 percent, to Trump’s 34 percent. But in South Carolina it would have dropped Trump to second place, which is about as good as the Republican establishment could hope for.”

Infographic via Washington Post

Bump also raises some interesting points about Cruz. While Cruz outperformed expectations in New Hampshire and Rubio underperformed, the opposite happened in South Carolina. Cruz was supposed to turn out the evangelical vote, yet Trump won every county Cruz hyped as his territory, along with the evangelical vote overall. And evangelical vote was higher in 2016 than 2012; blunting Cruz’s theory that he’d turn out the religious conservatives who failed to support Romney.

Bump explained, “As we noted earlier this week, a race that narrows to just Trump vs. Rubio or just Trump vs. Ted Cruz is a race that Trump probably loses. But that requires Kasich and Carson and Rubio or Cruz getting out. March 15 is the Ohio primary and the Florida primary, which both Kasich and Rubio will want to hang around for — making it even less likely that Trump will suddenly start trailing a consolidated centrist candidate.”

That being said, Cruz isn’t going anywhere, and I still think he can do well on Super Tuesday. While he came in third place in South Carolina, the total vote difference between Cruz and Rubio was only 1,091. And that may have had a lot to do with Rubio’s key endorsements in South Carolina from Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott, and Congressman Trey Gowdy. Cruz is still in a good position to perform well throughout the rest of the south.

But with Bush out, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the establishment wagons will start to circle around either Rubio or Kasich in a decisive fashion. There are reports that Mitt Romney plans to endorse Rubio this week, and it’s highly possible that many of Bush’s supporters, particularly those who value executive experience, will move their support and resources to Kasich, the only governor left in the race. This can’t be good news for Cruz, but it doesn’t mean he won’t be a contender.

With Bush out, and Nevada’s caucus on Tuesday, we’ll get a sense of how the field will shake up prior to March 1st. Trump’s support clearly has its limits, but the trouble for the GOP is how split the strong, and frankly pervasive, anti-Trump vote is. Theories have been floated that the Republican base should coalesce around a Rubio/Kasich ticket, with Rubio brokering a deal with Cruz that he’ll nominate him as a Supreme Court Justice.

On its face, this seems a bit far fetched. But at this point, anything is possible. Despite the proxy wars between Cruz and Rubio, many Republicans are eager to unite. Especially in pursuit of stopping Trump. Although no Republican who has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina has failed to get the nomination, this cycle has been stranger than fiction. What lies ahead is still anybody’s guess.

The Fight For Liberty Will Always Transcend Presidential Politics

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

I’ll admit it. I kind of lost it when Donald Trump won New Hampshire this week. I know, the polls showed it was a long time coming. But after Ted Cruz took him out in Iowa, I thought there was at least a chance that someone could repeat the performance and bruise the alleged tough guy’s ego enough to induce Trumper Tantrum part two. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Trump won New Hampshire with 35% of the vote; more than double second-place finisher John Kasich.

This presidential cycle, I’ve written extensively about how anti-establishment instincts are not inherently pro-liberty. If anything proves that from a data standpoint, it’s the fact that Trump won the New Hampshire towns where Ron Paul performed the best in 2012. Sanders also did well in those areas on the Democratic side. Of course, we don’t know how well Rand Paul would have done if he’d stayed in for New Hampshire. But polls showed him hovering around just 4% in the weeks leading up to the race. Dropping out to focus on his Senate race made sense at that point.

Simply put, it’s just not a good year for liberty on the presidential side. But what I needed to remember while I was busy seeing red on Tuesday is how much progress we have made. When Rand Paul dropped out after Iowa, the first thing I did was pen an optimistic piece about how much the liberty movement has accomplished in the past decade, and why there’s so much more to work toward. And as I raged on Facebook post-primary about how I feared my work had helped, even if slightly, to pave the way for the Trump juggernaut, I got a nice reminder that reinforced my typically optimistic outlook.

“Corie, I have about 40 colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus who agree with my principles and positions to a degree I never would have imagined just a few years ago,” wrote Congressman Justin Amash on my status. (How cool is social media, by the way?) “I’ve run openly as a libertarian Republican (without using Ron Paul’s more paleoconservative rhetoric that appeals to Trump voters), have been challenged aggressively, and consistently win by large margins,” he added. (True story; a Chamber of Commerce backed, self-funded challenger tried to take Rep. Amash out in a primary two years ago and failed miserably.) “Things are moving in our direction in the background, even as things get worse in the foreground,” he concluded.

The truth is, Rep. Amash is absolutely right. Congress is in a much better position to fight for reform than it has been in quite some time. And I’ve long expressed my belief that the fight for liberty is largely a generational one. I continue to believe that despite temporary setbacks amid the normal ebb and flow of politics. The vast majority of young Republicans tend to lean libertarian, and there are pro-freedom instincts present among Millennials – it just takes the right messengers to tap into. Some look at the support Bernie Sanders commands from young people and conclude that there’s no hope. He’s a socialist, after all! But it’s a lot more complicated than a cursory look reveals.

As Bonnie Kristian wrote at Rare this week analyzing a Nate Silver piece on Bernie Sanders’ youth support, “Silver argues, Sanders’ success—and Ron Paul’s success among the same Millennial generation—is about how ‘younger Americans view political labels like ‘socialist’ and ‘libertarian’ differently than older ones.’” As Kristian noted however, the data Silver presents shows that Millennials don’t actually like socialist economic policies. As she explained, “In other words, young people continue to be a little bit more left-wing than average, but they drift right with age. What else is new?” And as Kristian noted per Silver’s data, Americans under 30 actually have a more positive view of libertarianism than socialism.

Ultimately, I agree with Kristian’s take here: “Millennials like me have grown into adulthood with an awful economy and constant war. Each new newsday seems to bring yet another report of some secret, dastardly way the government is violating our liberties and trampling the rule of law,” she writes. “Of course, Paul and Sanders aren’t saying all the same stuff, but they are both saying that revolutionary change is long overdue. That’s incredibly appealing to the most politically independent generation ever.”

As Kristian adds, “[T]he good news is that libertarianism could well win out: Even with favorable feelings toward ‘socialism,’ Millennials are comparatively conservative with our money, ready for a more responsible foreign policy, and disinterested in running other people’s lives. That said, there’s certainly work to be done to provide Millennials the economic education they need to match their excellent pro-liberty instinctswith specific pro-liberty policies. But economic education is hardly an insurmountable hurdle—and honestly, simply growing older and taking on more financial responsibilities can accomplish a lot in that regard. In short, Millennials’ political independence is no cause for dismay for anyone except the moribund political establishment we’re no longer willing to support.”

This is all a good reminder that there is a lot to be optimistic about. It’s true that nothing is foolproof and that there are authoritarian strains in our politics to be worried about. But there’s strong evidence that people are fed up with the status quo, and want something different. It’s up to libertarians to explain why our ideas are the best suited to fill the gap caused by a lack of trust in political elites. And we no doubt have a long and arduous road ahead. But as Matt Kibbe, the former president of FreedomWorks and head of a Rand Paul Super PAC recently wrote, “Rand Paul is out – but libertarianism is finally mainstream.”

Said Kibbe: “Rand has seeded another generation of liberty-minded young people, much like his father did in 2008 and 2012. When I was a kid, there was no broad social movement for liberty like we see today. Rand juiced the build-out of this community simply by being on the presidential stage, by offering a compelling alternative to the establishment’s failed foreign policies, and by speaking about civil liberties and the failures of mass incarceration to new audiences that few Republicans have been willing to engage with.”

There’s much to continue working for. As Kibbe said, “Politics is a lagging indicator of social change, and the measure of a social movement is better taken upstream from voter turnout.” As libertarians, I believe we should continue to tap into the dissatisfaction people very clearly and justifiably feel. Now is the time to continue making the case that our ideas are viable. We’ve made incredible progress in a relatively short period of time. Instead of giving up, we should double down and push harder. Libertarian Republicans may have lost the presidential battle this year, but the war no doubt rages on. And the truth is, the liberty movement has more ground troops now than at any point in modern history. As Rep. Amash suggested, I’ll keep fighting.

New Hampshire was a Revolt Against the Status Quo, But It Doesn’t Set an Unbreakable Precedent

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

Sanders 60%, Clinton 38%. Trump 35%, Kasich 16%. This is what happens when voters are so frustrated that they choose the devils they don’t know over the ones that are all too familiar. As someone who cut her teeth politically in the Ron Paul and Tea Party movements, I get the appeal of fighting to stop the establishment. When traditional politicians constantly ignore your concerns, you latch onto alternatives. Unfortunately for conservatives and libertarians, the Republican alternative New Hampshire chose is a vulgar, left-wing, con-man.

Maybe I’m unique for thinking results, not the simple act of poking the giant, matter. I’ve argued before that many people I once thought were part of the libertarian coalition are “anti-establishment” simply for the sake of it, rather than principled in their views. And I get that populism has its own left-right lurches and we may be in an authoritarian pull currently. But while Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won decisively in New Hampshire – a 94% white state with an open primary – I’m not convinced that they’ll be the nominees.

New Hampshire’s primary being the first in the nation and open to independents makes it unique. If only registered Democrats had voted, the margin between Sanders and Hillary Clinton would have been split nearly 50%-50%, as was the case in Iowa. And on the Republican side, Trump attracted a high number of independent votes as well. Moving forward, the majority of states don’t have open primaries, and that will matter; largely benefiting Hillary on the Democratic side. The question for Republicans now is which candidates, if any, are poised to stop Trump?

While moderate Ohio Governor John Kasich eked out what many considered a surprising second place in New Hampshire, it wasn’t unpredicted. Polls showed him doing well, and he staked everything on the Granite State, holding over 100 townhalls and essentially living there over the past several months. While Kasich’s showing is impressive, especially considering he got 1.9% of the vote in Iowa, all signs point to his inability to perform in the next several states, as he’s done virtually nothing to lay groundwork.

This leaves Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, with their 11.7%, 11.0% and 10.6% respective finishes in New Hampshire. Rubio admitted that he diminished the potential of his post-Iowa “Marcomentum” with a strangely robotic performance in Saturday’s debate. That flap probably won’t be his ultimate demise, but the timing mixed with the fact that nearly half of voters were undecided up until the last few days hurt him. Bush still managed to underperform with a fourth place finish after spending $1,200 per voter in New Hampshire. For perspective, Trump spent $40, and Cruz, just $18.

But there’s an argument to be made that Bush has the ground game to absorb both Kasich’s and Chris Christie’s votes in South Carolina and beyond. And if establishment confidence in Rubio collapses, that could have an impact that benefits Bush as well. There’s also an argument that given his strong Iowa and New Hampshire performances, Cruz is the one to stop Trump. This will no doubt irk colleagues who have complained that Cruz is ruthless and impossible to work with. But if it’s true that he’s the only candidate who can piece together enough of the conservative base, which has registered its frustration with the status quo, to stop Trump? In my book, and according to two-thirds of Republicans who say they’d never vote for the braggadocious businessman, that’s a win.

The Democrats are no doubt facing a similar sense of woe as it comes to stopping their version of a hostile takeover in the Sanders surge. Though he’s a Senator who caucuses with the Democrats, Sanders is an independent; and his supporters like that about him. The same question Republicans have about Trump’s viability in closed primaries is what Clinton’s camp is banking on moving forward. While polls do show Sanders gaining on her nationally, Clinton still holds a lead, especially among minority voters. (Though Sanders’ new endorsement from leading black intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates is a blow for Hillary, as is recent support for him from former NAACP chair Ben Jealous.)

Despite these setbacks, Clinton is counting on support from rank-and-file non-white Democrats and older women; something she will likely be able to bank on at the end of the day. And depending on how South Carolina and Nevada, which are scheduled for February 20th, shake out, Republicans may just find the man who can both take Trump out, and as they hope, beat Clinton in November. Bush seems better poised now than he has at any point in the cycle. But Rubio continues to effectively straddle the line between insurgent and establishment, while Cruz rakes in conservative support and continues to court Rand Paul’s libertarian voters, many of whom helped him overtake Bush in New Hampshire.

The Republican side is still an open ballgame, and there is a non-zero chance that independents will once and for all hijack the system and nominate both Sanders and Trump. But more than likely, Clinton will be the nominee, with a Cruz, Bush, or Rubio flanking her during general election debates. If after all the populist noise voters made in New Hampshire, Clinton and Bush are the ultimate nominees, it would be a level of poetic justice that would unite the political elite on both sides of the aisle. But if that happens – and I’m not sure it will – it would be as a result of a much harder fought battle than either of them ever bargained for.

Could New Hampshire become revenge of the Republican governors?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Last week’s Iowa caucus was dominated by the outsiders, as top finishers Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio are, at least by most measures, insurgents with less political experience than their competitors. (I’ve argued that Rubio is actually “stealth establishment,” but he nonetheless pushes an outsider image – and pretty persuasively.)

Even Ben Carson and Rand Paul placed top five in the Iowa caucus while Governors Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie garnered 2.8 percent, 1.9 percent, and 1.8 percent respectively. Paul has since dropped out of the race, Carson is barely registering in New Hampshire polls, and both Kasich and Bush are, to the shock of many observers, now giving frontrunner Trump a run for his money.

As Kevin Boyd wrote at Rare about Kasich, “The second term Ohio governor and former Congressman has staked everything on New Hampshire and it appears it will pay off with a strong finish…. His crowds have gotten larger in the past few days and have become more energetic.”

Bush is also doing better than expected, with new polls showing him in either second or third place. And while a post-Iowa caucus poll commissioned by CNN released Friday showed Rubio gaining on Trump for second place, this bump hasn’t lasted.

Per CNN, Trump maintained his New Hampshire lead with 29 percent, and Rubio gained, with a second place 18 percent. That appears to be changing however, after a nearly universally negative reception to Rubio’s debate performance on Saturday.

While Rubio’s defenders say his performance was simply a matter of “staying on message,” he came across as almost sickly robotic – and Chris Christie called him out during a moment that undoubtedly hurt Rubio’s image and campaign chances.

“Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing,” said Rubio, over, and over, and over again in an attempt to hit the president. In response, Christie pounced, “There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

Instead of changing course, Rubio repeated the line. Again. And again. Leading to charges that he’s inexperienced, can’t take the heat, doesn’t have much real policy knowledge, and isn’t ready to take on Hillary Clinton, let alone be president himself.

Said Charles Krauthammer, who has long praised Rubio as a new hope:

“I think, (Rubio’s exchange with Christie) really hurt. And of course, the moment that people are going to be remembering is Rubio…. I think that this is a moment when he could have really put away the field, and he has had a great momentum, and this is likely to put something of a brake on his momentum.”

Kasich and Bush are both banking on a strong performance in New Hampshire to justify continuing their campaigns. Kasich has stated that if he doesn’t do well in the Granite State, he knows there’s no future for him. And Bush insiders are preparing for the possibility of Jeb ending his campaign if he doesn’t counter his poor Iowa showing with strength in New Hampshire.

Luckily for the governors, Republican voters in New Hampshire have a history of independent thinking, and don’t always follow the trends set in Iowa. And although Trump is still the frontrunner in New Hampshire, he underperformed his polling in Iowa, and has done very little retail politicking or ground work in New Hampshire.

Kasich, Bush, and Christie on the other hand, have had their noses to the grindstone, meeting voters and shaking hands, even as New Hampshire faces impending blizzard conditions.

After Iowa, instead of heading to the Granite State, Trump elected to go back to New York City. He made an appearance at a New Hampshire diner over the weekend, but Trump is more suited to his arena rallies and towering rhetoric than one-on-one questions from actual voters.

At the primary approaches, New Hampshire remains a shockingly open race. Kasich, Bush, and even Christie could surprise. Or perhaps Rubio and Cruz, who are nearly tied per recent polls will over-perform. It’s still anyone’s guess, but it’s clear that the governors have a chance to shine in New Hampshire that simply wasn’t provided to them in Iowa.