POLITICS

Hey, Marco, Where You Actually Going To Win? And What About The Rest Of You?

Taking a look at the cold, hard primary math.

This week, the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky posed one of those pre-primary questions that’s actually worth considering: “Can Marco Rubio even win a primary?” And, yeah: with all the attendant hype and hope around Rubio, the big talk and the big donors, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that sooner or later, it’s about winning elections. The thing is -- this applies to everyone in what’s been a gigantic field. Where are you going to win? And when? And if you have no idea how to answer these questions, what are you doing staying in the race?

So, a reality check is in order. Here’s ours.

RANK CANDIDATE
1
MARCO RUBIO
We’ve been hearing it for weeks. “Rubio is the favorite of the establishment.” “Rubio is the favorite of donors.” Okay, we buy it. Where is his first primary win, though? Oh, don’t everyone back out of the room like that! If he’s not won one by Florida... he’d better win Florida. Or he could end up being the Rudy Giuliani of 2016. By the time the former mayor got to the “Florida firewall,” he was toast.
2
TED CRUZ
The developing conventional wisdom is that Cruz is the “real” Donald Trump if Donald Trump isn’t the real Donald Trump. He is the “professional” shadow government in the Trump primary.
3
BERNIE SANDERS
We agree that the notion that “Sanders lacks electability” is probably a bit overcooked -- if not overblown. But the underdog has to take a first step toward proving that -- in Iowa.
4
HILLARY CLINTON
We know how she feels -- she trashed Iowa in one of those released emails. But Hillary got the late-deciders in New Hampshire to break her way in dramatic fashion in 2008, anything less could be problematic.
5
DONALD TRUMP
Trump’s no traditionalist. That’s why the rubber hits the road early for him, in Iowa. The theory is that his hardened support isn’t just hot air, it’s an anti-insider, against-politics-as-usual movement that will hit the polls. Whether it does or not in Iowa will determine the difference between hype and hypothesis.
6
BEN CARSON
As long as the guys running your fundraising empire can keep minting money from your name, does it really matter if you win a primary?
7
JEB BUSH
What’s the least humiliating way out at this point? Follow through and lose a string primaries with dignity? Or get out now?
8
CHRIS CHRISTIE
To preserve the dignity of the Union-Leader, if nothing else, you have to win New Hampshire. You called the trick shot. You gotta make it.
9
RAND PAUL
We don’t know where he wins a primary...but he’d better last long enough to make it to the Kentucky caucuses, which he strong-armed the state GOP into having the first week of March instead of having a primary in May -- and for which he’s promised to cover the cost. Maybe he’ll decide to pack it in early and save the money for his 2016 Senate re-election race.
10
MARTIN O'MALLEY
Dude, if you actually win the Iowa caucuses, or even finish second, we will be forced to delete from the Huffington Post archive all of the digital snark we have laid on you lo these many months.
Photos: Getty, Associated Press