In light of the Rubio Nevada firewall strategy, I offer Dan McLaughlin’s (RedState) Rubio roadmap that seemingly validates it, though contrasting it with Cruz’s more viable path to the nomination. It’s an intriguing look – based on a presumptive Rubio victory in Nevada – at what would have to happen for Marco Rubio to win the GOP nomination. To wit:
I should stress that what follows is not an exercise in prediction, and that a lot can still happen between now and the Iowa Caucus on February 1. This is obviously a somewhat optimistic hypothetical scenario for Cruz, and a more strongly optimistic hypothetical scenario for Rubio, but I think it is an entirely plausible one if we consider the history of two-horse races like Obama vs Hillary in 2008 and Ford vs Reagan in 1976, both of which ended with each candidate solidifying a distinct geographic and demographic base of support.
He goes on to outline several feasible scenarios and backs up each with plausible political predictors in each state, complete with delegate mapping and interesting thoughts on who drops out when:
Working off the current polling for the first two states in particular, I start with Cruz-Trump-Rubio-Carson in Iowa, Trump-Rubio-Christie-Cruz in New Hampshire, with Rubio a fairly distant third in Iowa and Christie a fairly close third in New Hampshire. This, the conventional wisdom properly tells us, is not great news for Rubio, but he’s still in the game. Huckabee and Santorum drop out after Iowa, Kasich and Fiorina drop out after New Hampshire, Pataki and Gilmore…ah, who am I kidding it doesn’t matter what they do. Cruz then wins South Carolina, and that’s where he really breaks Trump’s back; Rubio runs a close third, Christie and Carson and Jeb and Paul all finish pretty far back.
He predicts Jeb will bow out after South Carolina (though I think he will make it into the Florida Primary before making any decision):
South Carolina has been – besides Newt beating Romney in 2012 – the traditional “decider” state, and Jeb being nothing if not a guy who knows the traditions, gives up the ghost.
Then the Rubio victory premise (even he shades its inevitability):
Rubio then pulls out a strong win in Nevada – it increasingly looks as if this will be the state he really needs in the early going to stay credible (if he gets out-organized by Cruz in Nevada, this whole scenario starts looking a lot more speculative)…
The remainder is both informative and entertaining, and certain to ignite intelligent speculations over the prospect of a Trump-less race between Cruz and Rubio. It’s well worth the read.
Clint Cline is the president of Design4, a national media and messaging firm based in Florida.