Why the story of November wasn’t Donald Trump, it was Marco Rubio.
Over the last few days, much has been made over the most recent Quinnipiac Poll. While many point out Ben Carson’s steady decline over the month of November – which in the Quinnipiac poll has him sliding down to third place at 16% – more have pointed out the strength of one Donald Trump. Multiple stories have alluded to Trump’s 27% lead in the Quinnipiac Poll as being “impressive this late in the campaign season.”
These people are also rubes.
If election history has taught us anything, it’s that looking at poll numbers this early tells us very little specifics. Don’t believe us? In past Republican primaries, with 60 days to go before the first primary elections, Rudy Giuliani (2008) and Herman Cain (2012) were the front-runners in their respective primary races. A month or two afterwards, they were polling in the bottom rungs of the party. For the media, it makes sense for them to laud over Trump’s poll numbers, because Trump is not your average candidate.
Due to Trump’s non-traditional campaign, the methods in which we predict primary success doesn’t apply to him. Indicators like the number of donors or the number of endorsements that are made become mute in his case. He’s not only self-funded (so many big time donors are absent), but also his entire campaign success hinges on being an “outsider” candidate. That would mean endorsements from elected officials (Republican representatives or senators) would be counter-productive to the image he’s trying to cultivate during the 2016 primaries. So the media tends latches on to the only metric that applies to Trump, early polling data, which is extremely volatile this point in the election cycle.
Yet as Trump remains a giant wild card, Marco Rubio looks to slowly becoming a legitimate contender.
In the month of November, Rubio’s solid debate performances have many in the Republican Establishment turning heads. There was a time in which Jeb Bush looked to be the only legitimate option for Establishment Republicans in the GOP. But as Rubio started to gain traction, people started to pay more attention. Bush on the other hand, has had a November he’d rather forget. After making a handful of public faux pas and numerous debate gaffes, many in the GOP are starting to pay attention to Rubio instead. In other words, it’s been a “this is my milkshake moment” for Rubio.
As Rubio started to gain more political endorsements from other candidates – his ten to Bush’s two – and gain more big money donors, it became clear many establishment Republicans were starting to look at Rubio as a viable alternative to Bush. Add that to the fact that Rubio is young and a minority – two demographics that the GOP has struggled to attract – you start to see the makings of a perfect storm for the Rubio campaign. The Quinnipiac Poll backs that sentiment.
In Rubio’s meteoric rise in November, he passed Ben Carson to take second place with 17%. While 10% is still a considerable lead for Trump, but with all the factors added in, you start to see how Rubio could overtake Trump before the first primary election in February. While Rubio starts to build his campaign on a sturdy foundation of endorsements and big money donations, Trump’s lead looks to be more-and-more in danger.
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