This passage from a Politico story on Rubio’s anxious donors sums up most of what has been wrong with the campaign and the media’s coverage of it:
It’s all too familiar a situation for the Republican elite, and for past Bush supporters who have swung to Rubio, who have long waited for Rubio to translate his many fleeting moments of success into tangible momentum [bold mine-DL].
References to Rubio’s “moments” have become a joke in no small part because they were always obviously manufactured episodes designed to draw attention to his campaign. None of the so-called “moments” has been followed by anything but disappointment for his supporters because the “moment” was never real in the first place. There have not been “many fleeting moments of success” for Rubio. There were a handful of underwhelming second and third-place finishes in the first month followed by a string of more than a dozen complete failures. That isn’t surprising for a long-shot campaign by a first-term senator with no real qualifications to be president, but Rubio’s fans believed him to be something entirely different. Far too much of the coverage of the campaign treated their belief as the reality, and in turn encouraged many other Republicans to cling to the fantasy that Rubio could still prevail.
Every “moment” for Rubio was a false dawn, and his boosters in the media went out of their way to help Rubio spin his consistently bad results into electoral gold. When he flopped in New Hampshire, his fans were unable to cover for him, but after he lost South Carolina and Nevada (states that his campaign previously claimed he would win) his repeated failure was transmuted into an amazing comeback story. Then his boosters celebrated his self-destructive attacks on Trump, only to discover in the last few days that Rubio hastened his campaign’s collapse and did very little harm to Trump.
Next week is unlikely to be any more pleasant for Rubio and his fans than this one was. He polls in the single digits in Ohio, lags behind Trump in Illinois, and sits in third place in North Carolina. Florida is now being referred to as Rubio’s “last stand,” and if the polls are even close to right it will be just as successful as Gen. Custer’s. The best public poll for Rubio shows him losing by 8 points, and the latest Quinnipiac poll has him down by 23. It is more likely at this point that Cruz passes him for second place than it is that he wins, and it would be fitting if his last result was another famous third-place “victory.” Appropriately, it will be the Floridian voters Rubio served so badly that will be the ones to finish off his ill-advised campaign and over-hyped political career.