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The Rubio Mirage (V)

Stephen Hayes and Bill Kristol beat the dead horse of the Rubio-as-VP idea:

Rubio’s appeal goes well beyond Hispanics and well beyond Florida, of course. At a recent appearance in Nevada on behalf of Romney, Rubio drew nearly 1,000 voters to his former elementary school, with lines out the door. His autobiography, An American Son, spent several weeks near the top of the New York Times bestseller list. A recent survey of Illinois delegates to the Republican convention found that nearly half of them want Romney to pick Rubio.

If this is the best Hayes and Kristol have, there isn’t much evidence that Rubio appeals to Hispanics or anyone else outside of Florida. One would expect that a large number of Republican convention delegates want Rubio on the ticket. Rubio’s pundit admirers have been telling rank-and-file Republicans for the last two years that Rubio is vice-presidential/presidential material. They have ceaselessly promoted and praised him as a rising star, so it isn’t exactly news that many Republicans have believed the hype. It makes sense that many of them would rush out to buy Rubio’s book. One would think that people attending a Romney campaign event are similarly inclined to view Rubio favorably.

These aren’t the people that a Rubio selection is supposed to win over. The supposed value of adding Rubio to the ticket is that he will pull voters into the Republican column that would otherwise not normally be there. Unfortunately, there is no reason to think that Rubio would attract these voters, and there never has been. Most Hispanics nationwide know little or nothing about Rubio, and what they find out about him isn’t likely to appeal to them. The very things that make movement conservative activists and pundits like Rubio are the same things that limit his ability to appeal to voters outside his party. According to Rasmussen back in March, Rubio’s favorability among likely Hispanic Floridian voters was 16%, and his unfavorable rating was 64%. Rubio’s fav/unfav ratings among likely independent Floridian voters in the same survey was 36/48%. Among likely moderate Floridian voters, they were 33/50%. Rubio’s appeal in Florida is already limited mostly to other Republicans and conservatives, so why should anyone believe that it would be any different elsewhere?

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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