Allysia Finley thinks that the vacancy on the Supreme Court is an opening for (you guessed it) Marco Rubio:
The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has raised the stakes of the presidential election. If there is a silver lining, it’s that maybe conservatives will finally sober up and stop indulging their self-destructive impulse to choose the “most conservative” candidate or the one with no internal censor (or compass). They may finally realize how important electability is—and take a fresh look at Marco Rubio.
Like most other positive claims about Rubio, the idea that he is the best-suited for the general election is rarely put under close scrutiny. Rubio himself has been relying on this conceit heavily to revive his flagging fortunes in the nomination contest. Suffice it to say, there isn’t much to back up this conceit. The evidence that he would be the most competitive Republican candidate in November is sparse and not very meaningful.
Many people assume Rubio must be more electable than Trump and Cruz because they see the others’ liabilities clearly, but that isn’t saying very much. It’s also not how most Republicans perceive the candidates. Trump and Cruz are consistently viewed as the most electable two in the field with Rubio behind them. One of the many reasons that Rubio’s support remains so limited nationally and in the early states may be that most Republicans simply don’t buy into the idea that he is the best bet for the fall. Another problem for Rubio is readiness, or rather his perceived lack of it. The latest YouGov survey from South Carolina released over the weekend asked whether respondents thought the candidate was ready or not ready to be president, and Rubio’s numbers were evenly split with 39% saying he was and 41% saying he wasn’t. If that many Republican primary voters in an early state have reservations about his readiness to be president, that doesn’t bode well for how he will be judged by a less sympathetic electorate in the fall.
If many Republicans aren’t sold on Rubio’s electability or his readiness, I suspect that most non-Republicans also won’t go for it. The old argument for Rubio’s candidacy was that he would be a coalition-expanding, “generational” candidate able to appeal to voting blocs that didn’t traditionally support the GOP. The key to that appeal was supposed to be his support for immigration “reform.” That never made sense on its own terms, but since Rubio abandoned (or seemed to abandon) that position it now makes none at all. His foreign policy is the most hard-line, aggressive, and dangerous one being offered this cycle, and he has staked out a number of positions on other issues that will make it fairly easy for the other party to caricature him as either out-of-touch or beholden to wealthy interests. We often hear the claim that Rubio is the candidate Democrats are most afraid of running against, but the multiple lines of attack they would use against him are so obvious and damaging that it’s hard to believe this.
Finley refers to the debate and says, “Unlike the front-runners, Mr. Rubio projected hope.” That is a strange way to describe a candidate whose campaign is pushing a weird ad that remakes Reagan’s “Morning in America” to tell a gritty tale of gloom and despair about the Obama years. Rubio’s vision of the present is increasingly a bleak and alarmist one, and his general election pitch that Obama has been seeking to destroy the country is remarkably tone-deaf when the president has decent approval ratings close to 50%.
The biggest reason to doubt Rubio’s electability is that he hasn’t managed to win or even finish second among Republican voters in the nomination contest. In order to be considered electable for the general, it is necessary to demonstrate first that you can win the votes of people that already mostly agree with you. Right now Rubio is trying to get primary voters to believe he can beat Clinton in the presidential election when he can’t even beat Trump in a primary. It shouldn’t be a surprise if they don’t cooperate.