Opinion

Why everyone is so high on Marco Rubio — despite his middling poll numbers

"When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"

I'm calling it: Marco Rubio will be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

He is the bookkeepers' favorite, albeit a strange one, as he is leading neither in the polls (he's clocking in at 13 percent, per Real Clear Politics' polling average) nor in fundraising or endorsements. There is no early state, in particular, where he can make a strong showing and propel himself to national victory.

And yet, as Sherlock Holmes once said: "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Let's get Jeb Bush out of the way first. Republican voters aren't that dumb. They won't renominate a Bush so soon, against a Clinton. Especially not one who has been such an underwhelming candidate. He has money, but money follows success, and money can't save a bad candidate.

Then there's Donald Trump. He's Trump. At some point, voters will get a closer look, and he'll collapse like a full head of hair under a shower. In fact, it may already have begun. He may do some damage, but he won't be the nominee.

Ben Carson might be the nominee, and might even be president, if he was serious. I don't mean his outlandish views or questionable statements, although they play a role. I mean that he is not running for president. He is running for pundit-in-chief. So much of the money he raises he spends on raising more money — which makes sense if you want to build lists of people to whom you can sell books and DVDs down the line, but not so much if you want to win a primary. With his intense popularity among evangelicals, he could conceivably win in Iowa and then ride that wave to the nomination. But he doesn't want to. Not really.

Then there's Ted Cruz, the anti-Rubio. Cruz, the anti-establishment candidate in the most anti-establishment year on record. Cruz, the oily used-car salesman who creeps out as many people — including in the GOP — as he entrances. He won't make it.

With Bush doing so badly, Rubio is on track to become the establishment candidate, which usually means a lock on the nomination. This year, too? This year would be the year where the rules of the game change, but only if the base unites behind a single, excellent candidate, which they don't have, and the establishment candidate is deeply underwhelming, which Rubio is not.

Rubio remains a Tea Party conservative, and is recognized as such by the party. His only heresy is on immigration, but that's never been fatal to a candidate. Unlike Jeb, he hasn't maxed out his heresy credit.

Rubio will get the money. He'll get the endorsements. He'll get the votes. He'll keep doing well in debates, and on the stump, and in town halls. He will do well enough in the early states to get the money and the inevitability to win the big contests. And he'll wrap it up.

By a process of elimination, it has to be him.

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