Republicans DO need a savior
Who's better for the future of the Republican Party? Marco Rubio? Or Jeb Bush? BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins uses the microscopic world of wealthy Republican donors in South Florida to make a series of macroscopic points about the choice Republican mandarins will face very soon. For many, it will come down to whether their choice of Rubio or Bush would offset the ramifications for their private and personal concerns if a Republican doesn't win in 2016. Here is the way it looks from the Sunshine State:
Whereas Jeb Bush's largest liability is his last name, Rubio's liability is his lack of a substantive set of qualifications. But let's be honest: Our current president did not have the traditional pre-presidential stripes either. And maybe Republicans should take a lesson from that. Hillary Clinton was the "Jeb" in that 2008 scenario, complete with (at the time, what seemed like) a historical baggage problem.
Republicans are of two minds about "saviors." Many are wary of embracing one, but others derive their entire political identity from Ronald Reagan. A savior figure may be the only short-term way to regain the presidency, though. The Republican demographic crunch will force a successful presidential candidate to create a sustainable coalition of disparate groups, each attracted to the candidate by something different, and incentivized to work for the candidate by the dream he inspires.
If Hillary Clinton (or whichever Democrat wins the nomination in 2016) can replicate the Obama coalition of younger votes, minorities, college-educated whites, and single women, Republicans must build a counter-coalition from what remains. They'll be defending territory, too. As Jamelle Bouie notes in the most recent issue of The American Prospect, the Republican Solid South is more brittle than it seems because of African American outmigration from the North and from Latinos who are moving from Latin America: "Latino immigrants are flocking to Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina because they are agricultural centers with high demand for low-wage labor," for example. Republicans need to solve their Hispanic problem if they want to HOLD those states (and others, like Texas) in the future.
The Republican savior has to thread the needle: There is room for Republicans to grow their vote in the Rust Belt. But they've been unable to do so in their current configuration. The party's message and messengers aren't working well enough. A galvanizing candidate, someone who can shake up the chess board, someone who can attach new policies to existing demographic groups and grow them, is what Republicans need. That's why superficial qualities like Marco Rubio's youth and, yes, his ethnicity, matter more.