It was my belief that Sen. Marco Rubio would have capitalized off of a strong third place finish in Iowa by now, but the Rubio campaign’s poor campaign strategy of believing that early wins were not important combined with a horrific debate performance before the New Hampshire primary essentially has rendered him a non-factor.
Rubio has two wins under his belt, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. Neither are victories that candidates boast about. All that said, I expect Rubio to continue to do well in the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas. I imagine Rubio will also do well in Hawaii. Those contests will only garner him 55 delegates if he gets every single delegate up for grabs.
Like Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Rubio needs a significant home-state victory in Florida on March 15th. Securing all of the state’s 99 delegates will not only get him back into the nomination fight, but it will also boost the establishment effort to prevent Trump from accumulating the necessary 1237 delegates to capture the Republican nomination. Many have been calling for Rubio to vacate the race, but if you are pushing a convention strategy, you actually need him to remain in the race and win wherever he can.
As of today Rubio has 151 delegates. If he can secure wins in Hawaii on Tuesday and Guam and Virgin Islands on Wednesday, he just might have enough momentum to win pull off a big Florida win, and all of a sudden he’s sitting there with at least 297 delegates, which isn’t anything to sneeze at. In fact, that would surpass the number of delegates that Santorum racked up in 2012.
There are 2,472 total delegates to be had. Trump is racing towards 1237, the number needed to secure the nomination, and while Cruz thinks he can play to win, it’s more likely that he, Rubio, and John Kasich could get to 1237 and prevent Trump from securing the nomination outright. In a race to 1237, Trump actually trails the field by over 100 delegates – 496 to 384.
There are only 1582 delegates remaining to be had. Trump needs over 53 percent of them to capture the nomination. It’s doable, but if he’s shut out in winner take all states like Ohio and Florida, that makes getting to 1237 that much more difficult. Instead of needing 53 percent to the remaining delegates, he suddenly needs to get over 63 percent of the remaining delegates.
It’s hard to see Rubio getting to 1237 on his own, but if Cruz can’t find a way to become more competitive with Trump in states outside of the Bible belt and Trump can’t get to 1237, it’s easy to see how Rubio might be able to be successful in a convention fight. If Rubio and Kasich were somehow able to become a joint ticket, they could easily become big factors at convention, especially if they control the Ohio and Florida delegations.
For all those calling for Rubio to drop out, I don’t think they really understand how the nomination process works. We may shrug off his victory in Puerto Rico, but it gives him momentum, and if he can win the three island contests this week, suddenly he’s back in the thick of things.