Nate Silver and the Five Thirty Eight team thought Florida Sen. Marco Rubio flubbed last week's pre-New Hampshire primary debate, but Silver offered the caveat that New Hampshire voters may have seen it differently.
We here at FiveThirtyEight endorse the conventional wisdom, for a change. Like most other people covering the event, we thought that Marco Rubio had a really bad night in Saturday’s Republican debate, that the three Republican governors (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich) had a pretty good night, and that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were somewhere in between.
Rubio, who received a C- in our anonymous staff grading,1 came into the night with a lot on the line. He began the evening at 16 percent in our New Hampshire polling average, with Trump at 30 percent. Believe it or not, that 14-point gap is not too much to overcome in New Hampshire; in the past, there have been last-minute swings and election-day polling misfires of about that magnitude in the state. By the same token, however, Rubio’s second-place position in the polls is not at all safe. Kasich and Cruz, both at 12 percent, and Bush, at 9 percent, could easily catch him; perhaps even Christie at 5 percent could also with a really strong finish.
If the final New Hampshire polls ahead of tomorrow's primaries are any indication however, Rubio is in real trouble.
An internal poll conducted on Sunday suggests that Marco Rubio’s fumbled debate performance has damaged his prospects heading into the New Hampshire primary.
The poll, conducted by the pro-John Kasich New Day for America Super PAC, shows Rubio plummeting to fourth place in the primary here, with 10 percent of the vote. Most of the polling conducted in the immediate days before the debate showed Rubio in second place.
The survey, which was based on phone calls to 500 likely voters (margin of error plus or minus 3 percent), was conducted Sunday, the day following the latest Republican debate. Rubio came under scathing attack from Chris Christie, who cast the first term Florida senator as too unready, ambitious, and superficial to occupy the Oval Office.
Donald Trump holds a wide lead in the survey, receiving 35 percent. He more than doubles runner-up Kasich, who has 15 percent. In third is Jeb Bush, with 13 percent. Behind Rubio in fifth and sixth place, respectively, are Christie and Ted Cruz. Both receive 8 percent.
The results are welcome news for Kasich and Bush, both of whom have made New Hampshire the centerpiece of the primary campaigns. Strong performances on Tuesday will give them reason to fight on to the South Carolina primary, which will be held Feb. 20.
Now, the grains of salt to be taken with a Kasich super-PAC poll showing him in second and Rubio fourth behind Jeb :( are approximately the size of beach balls, but should this turn out to be the case, especially if Trump runs away with the win, it seems like Rubio's clever strategy of winning the GOP nomination by coming in third may be in a smidge of doubt.
The greater point is there's only so much the Village can do to stop Trump if he wins tomorrow and Ted Cruz is nowhere to be found in New Hampshire after winning Iowa. Cruz finishing sixth behind Chris Christie?
Suddenly "Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump" is going to find its way into print sooner rather than later. Minor headline, suddenly Iowa doesn't matter anymore and South Carolina does.
It also means that if Rubio and Cruz finish that far out, the whole "No, YOU drop out so I can consolidate the anti-Trump/Cruz vote!" fight will go on for some time.
Oh, and just a reminder about the great "moderate" hope thing, as President, Marco Rubio would outlaw abortion and force women to carry their rapist's babies.
“It’s a terrible situation,” Rubio replied. “I mean, a crisis pregnancy, especially as a result of something as horrifying as that, I’m not telling you it’s easy. I’m not here saying it’s an easy choice. It’s a horrifying thing that you’ve just described.”
“I get it,” he added. “I really do. And that’s why this issue is so difficult. But I believe a human being, an unborn child has a right to live, irrespective of the circumstances of which they were conceived. And I know that the majority of Americans don’t agree with me on that.”
Sorry ladies, Marco's making that choice for you. Because rapists are dads too, you know.