Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Marco Rubio, Real Winner of Iowa Republican Caucus

Marco Rubio has delivered the message. Or, more precisely, the Republican caucuses have given a message to the party establishment. The polls had indicated a close race between billionaire businessman Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, with the former edging past the latter. Senator Marco Rubio was a distant third according to the same polls. However, the Republicans in Iowa chose Cruz over Trump, and gave a surprising endorsement for Rubio as well.
Rubio in 2012 (Pic: Gage Skidmore)

Rubio is currently the favorite of the party establishment, given the lackluster performance by other establishment favorites. The party cannot expect to win the Presidential Election with a divisive candidate such as Trump or Cruz. Therefore, it needs to elect a more moderate candidate such as Rubio.

Marco Rubio has several advantages. He can appeal to the younger generation and the Hispanic Americans, two key groups which overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama in 2008 as well as 2012. He can expect the reach of the voter base to the groups which did not support the party in the last two elections.

The fact that he was also trailing in the polls in Iowa may have created some fears among the Republican establishment. Apparently, it did the same in Iowa as he was selected as the best suitable candidate by over 20 percent of the participants of the Republican caucuses. He was dangerously close to pushing Trump to a unceremonious third place.

Rubio still has challenges. Jeb Bush, also from Florida, has vowed to keep on fighting. Bush expects Rubio to lack the experience to challenge him in the long run. However, Rubio has the charisma and perhaps the strategy, to defeat other establishment candidates.

One way Trump and Cruz can deflect the challenger from Florida is to start hitting out at him openly. Rubio has played a strategic campaign which was relatively low key and risk free. It has now paid dividends. However, it will be interesting to observe how the youthful junior Senator from Florida will face up to the challenges from anti-establishment and establishment candidates.

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