Politics

Five Reasons Marco Would Get Killed by Hillary

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is Trump, not Rubio, who matches up best with Clinton

One of Sen. Marco Rubio’s biggest strengths — what has kept him in the game despite poor performance on the field — has been conventional wisdom judging him the strongest candidate to go up against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But when the experts reach consensus, it probably is time for a reality check. Here are five reasons why conventional wisdom is wrong and why Trump is the strongest general election candidate.

1.) Crossover Appeal
Mitt Romney lost to President Obama in 2012 despite doing a good job holding onto Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Exit polls showed that he won the independent vote and lost only 6 percent of Republicans to Obama.

Winning will require more than turning out normal Republican voters. The primary results so far indicate that Rubio is a Republican in the mold of Romney, performing best in areas that typically favor Democrats in the general election. Like Romney, he ran well in Democratic areas like Northern Virginia and in urban areas of most states. In the general election, Rubio is unlikely to be any more successful in these counties than Romney was.

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The massive crowds that have followed Trump wherever he has shown up are a positive sign that he is a better than Rubio of generating the kind of excitement elsewhere that will be needed to overcome Clinton’s advantage in Democratic strongholds. Turnout in the primaries is way up, and Trump has topped the field among independents and first-time GOP primary voters.

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A poll taken in January by Mercury Analytics indicated that 20 percent of likely Democratic voters would defect to the GOP if Trump were the nominee.

2.) Debate Flubs
Although Rubio generally has performed well in debates, he suffered a cataclysmic meltdown when rival Chris Christie punched him in the face in a debate prior to the New Hampshire primary.

As Clinton has demonstrated against Sen. Bernie Sanders, she is a competent debater with a lot of practice. She can be counted on to be ruthless against Rubio, and a stumble in October would be far more consequential than Rubio’s bad night in January. Voters can be confident that Trump will not allow a Clinton punch to land without returning fire. And for all of Clinton’s debating experience, she has only ever faced convention politicians — not a street brawler like Trump.

3.) Working-class Appeal
Part of expanding beyond the GOP base is reaching folks who have not voted or who have voted for Democrats in the past. The hope for Rubio is that he could reverse the recent GOP slide with Hispanics, but he performed no better than Trump with Republican Latinos in Texas and Nevada.

One way to expand the tent is to reach working-class Democrats and independents. Trump’s message on trade and immigration would draw the sharpest contrast with Clinton. With more conventional views on both issues, it would be harder for Rubio to make a substantive pitch to these voters.

There is evidence to support this from the caucuses and primaries that have taken place so far. Exit and entrance polls show that Rubio does best with the wealthiest and best-educated Republican voters. In most states, Rubio has bested Trump among voters with household incomes greater than $100,000 and college graduates.

The problem is, there are not enough college graduates and high-income voters to win a national election. If Rubio cannot win downscale voters in a Republican primary, how can he pull in downscale voters who don’t normally vote Republican?

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4.) Experience Deficit
Trump has benefitted from Republican voters’ desire for someone from outside the political system, but that doesn’t mean he has no experience. His tenure running a major company matches up with the presidency far better than Rubio’s background as a legislator.

5.) Home-State Blues
History has not been kind to presidential candidates who could not carry their home states. Romney in 2012, then-Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern in 1972 all lost their home states and went on to lose the election. For Gore, losing Tennessee provided the margin of victory to George W. Bush.

If polls are right and Rubio loses the Florida primary, he would the first presidential candidate ever — if he somehow secured the nomination anyway — who failed to win his home state in the primaries.

“Marco’s problem is nobody knows Rubio like Florida knows Rubio,” former Virginia Attorney General and Ted Cruz backer Ken Cuccinelli said on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

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