Marco Rubio's Virginia Primary Loss On Super Tuesday Is Devastating & Here’s Why
It's looking like Donald Trump has won the Republican primary in Virginia, getting around 35 percent of the vote with 92 percent of precincts reporting. This is a good thing for Trump, of course, but he's not the candidate who had the most on the line in the Old Dominion. That would be the junior senator from Florida, who had a very bad night. Marco Rubio's loss in Virginia is devastating to his campaign, and it's yet another sign that the "Marcomentum" so many mainstream Republicans have tried to wish into existence isn't, in fact, happening.
Rubio still hasn't won a single state, and his campaign was hoping to notch its first victory in Virginia on Tuesday. He poured resources into the state, and when the initial exit polls showed a race that was too close to call between him and Trump, he had reason to be hopeful. But as more of the state's results trickled in, it slowly became clear that Trump was going to win, and about an hour and a half after the polls closed, multiple networks had called the state for the Donald. In the end, Rubio got about 31 percent of the vote.
So, that's bad. But making matters worse for Rubio is that he might have won if a certain someone had dropped out of the race. Kasich drew around 84,000 votes in Virginia, and Rubio lost to Trump by about 35,000. Given that Kasich is the most Rubio-like candidate in the race, it's likely that those Kasich voters would have voted for Rubio if the Ohio governor wasn't running. But they didn't, because he was. If even half of Kasich's Virginia supporters voted for Rubio, that would have made Rubio the winner. As it turned out, though, and so Rubio's chances of winning his very first state slipped through his fingers once again.
This may be the death knell to the Rubio campaign. By this, I mean that losing Virginia might — and I emphasize "might" here — be the thing that finally forces Rubio supporters to reckon with the futility of his continued campaign. But the Virginia results weren't a game-changer. In fact, they really just confirmed what's been right in front of our eyes this whole time.
There was no good reason to believe Rubio was surging before Virginia, and there's no good reason to believe that he's surging now. Pundits have long predicted that the anti-Trump candidates would split the vote, and low and behold, that's what happened on Tuesday. Trump's first-place victory in New Hampshire suggested that he can appeal to moderate Republicans, and his success in Virginia confirms that.
Rubio, meanwhile, isn't in any better of a position to win the nomination now than he was a month ago, or two months ago, or two weeks ago. The results in Virginia drove this home, and now might be a good time for anti-Trump Republicans to acknowledge this. Pretending that Rubio has a better shot than he does is not going to help Rubio get the nomination. Winning states is the only way to do that.