Seemingly out of nowhere, or perhaps in response to Christie’s faulting, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has somehow worked his way into the top tier of candidates according to some analysts. Rubio has always been popular with the conservative base, but his immigration push cost him dearly and he still struggles to recover fully. However, new polling indicates he has wide appeal among Republican primary voters which could propel him far in the primaries.
Report from the Washington Post:
Marco Rubio isn’t exactly the buzziest candidate in the 2016 presidential race. In fact, ever since the senator’s effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform failed, he has been pretty quiet. Then fellow Floridian Jeb Bush got into the 2016 race, and suddenly the one-time future leader of the GOP is an afterthought — a second-tier candidate.
He shouldn’t be.
The fact remains that Rubio, more than anybody, is the guy Republicans should want to earn the nomination. That’s not to say that he’s definitely their best candidate — just that he’s the one with the most of what is described by pro-sports draft analysts as “upside.” [Emphasis added]
And it’s not just because he’s young, a gifted messenger, Hispanic and comes from a swing state. All of those things are important to making Rubio the GOP’s upside candidate, but it’s also because he’s the kind of guy who could — in theory, at least — unite a fractured Republican Party.
Case in point: a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Although Rubio hasn’t been at the top of GOP primary polls for many months, the new poll shows he’s the guy most Republicans could see themselves voting for. Fifty-six percent of Republicans say this about Rubio, and while that’s hardly a resounding number, it’s more than what anybody else received.
Having the opportunity for upside and being able to capitalize on the upside are two different things. Rubio is a charismatic speaker, but then so is Ted Cruz. He’s very conservative on social issues, but then so is Mike Huckabee. He’s also quite strong on defense, but then so is Scott Walker.
The question is whether Rubio can take his likability and stand out among a field in which his views are shared by many other candidates. The same could be said for Walker, Cruz, and some of the others, so the challenge exists for nearly each candidate.