The Super Tuesday results were almost as discouraging for Rubio as they could be. Jonathan Chait explains:
Then finally, the collapse culminated in a humiliating 1-for-11 showing for Rubio on Super Tuesday.
For all its struggles at vote-garnering, Rubio’s campaign has excelled at one thing: winning the nebulous “expectations game.” In part because establishment Republicans were pulling so hard for him and supplying reporters with encouraging quotes, Rubio’s campaign managed to turn a string of defeats into positive press coverage touting the wins that were always soon to come. This time they may have slipped up. Tuesday, reports leaked that Rubio’s campaign was telling supporters it could win four states. This turned his 1-for-11 showing from a disappointment into an absolute debacle [bold mine-DL]. (Worse still, the evening began with Rubio challenging for a symbolic win in Virginia, and waves of excitement among his enthusiasts, giving the ensuing defeat more crushing force.)
The Rubio campaign has put together a 1-14 record this year reminiscent of some of the worst performances of the Miami Dolphins. By this point in the 2008 and 2012 races, Huckabee, Santorum, and Gingrich had all had more success, and even the hapless Romney ’08 campaign had won more states than Rubio has. If he were any other candidate, Rubio would be considered a failed also-ran and would be pushed to exit the race sooner rather than later. The fact that there is no pressure on Rubio to drop out is a reminder of one of the ongoing problems with his candidacy: he has extraordinary support from party leaders and donors, but he has relatively little support among voters. He can come in third almost everywhere, and he can still expect to be feted as a conquering hero by his admirers. Most voters don’t care, and will continue to choose other candidates.
If there is any pressure from party leaders on anyone to drop out, it is being applied to Kasich, who has a better chance of winning his home state than Rubio has and enjoys more support in the Midwest than Rubio does. Considering how much relentless cheerleading there has been for Rubio in the media (both conservative and mainstream), it is telling that he can’t close the deal anywhere except in a low-turnout caucus state. As much as pundits and party elders want to make Rubio into their champion, most Republican voters simply aren’t going for it, and that won’t change in the weeks and months to come. Rubio has been gifted countless “moments” of positive media coverage, and he hasn’t been able to do anything with them. It’s long past time that he and his supporters recognize that this isn’t his “moment” and act accordingly.