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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Don't Write Marco Rubio Off Just Yet

Some political observers believe that it is a forgone conclusion that Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination. And why not? He's been leading in the polls for months now, and he appears in position to win the Iowa caucuses, as well as New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. I find this potential outcome stunning because like many others I completely underestimated Trump's appeal. But it's real, even if some of us don't share it. And his opponents ignore or dismiss it to their peril.

However, just because Trump is leading in the polls, don't write Marco Rubio off just yet. A good showing by Rubio in Iowa -- that is, a strong third or second place finish in the high teens or better -- could force the other "establishment" candidates (i.e., Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich) to drop out of the race (there is some evidence that Rubio has been rising in the polls in Iowa although it is unlikely to translate into a win). It's unlikely that Bush, Christie, or Kasich would drop out before the New Hampshire primary, but if one or two suspend their campaigns after New Hampshire, their supporters could switch their allegiance to Rubio, which would almost certainly help his standing in the polls. This, in turn, would probably help Rubio pick up a few more endorsements, which is usually a good thing (but not always). It is interesting that in the last few days Rubio was endorsed by the Des Moines Register and the conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer ("The Three-Cornered Fight for the Soul of the GOP"). More could be on the way, but it will largely depend on what happens in Iowa on Monday.

Note: FiveThirtyEight editor Nate Silver just posted an excellent article on four possible GOP scenarios following the Iowa caucuses ("Four Roads Out of Iowa for Republicans"). It's worth the five minutes of your time that will take to read it.

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