The “Rubio or Bust” Theory

Readers of this blog know what I regard to be the transcendent moral issues of our time–the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and religious liberty. I have views on national security, the economy, etc., but those first three items are the biggies as far as I’m concerned. And there is more than one presidential candidate in the field who would do reasonably well on each of those issues. 

So please do not construe what follows as an endorsement, because it’s not. I am not going to endorse a candidate–mainly because I’m a pastor and I don’t want to give the impression that you have to vote for candidate “X” in order to be a good Christian. So what follows is not an endorsement. Nor is it meant to imply that someone is falling short if they disagree.

It is, however, a sober analysis of likely outcomes given a certain set of electoral circumstances (HT to Justin Taylor). David Wasserman predicts that it’s “Rubio or bust” for the Republicans at this point. Wasserman explains:

There are a lot of complex analyses of the 2016 election floating around. My own theory is quite straightforward: If Hillary Clinton is the nominee — and she remains a heavy favorite over Bernie Sanders — her fate largely rests with Republican voters’ decisions over the next few months.

If Republicans nominate Rubio, they would have an excellent chance to beat Clinton by broadening their party’s appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos. The GOP would also have an excellent chance to keep the Senate, hold onto a wide margin in the House and enjoy more control of federal government than they have in over a decade.

If they nominate Ted Cruz, Clinton would probably win, the GOP Senate majority would also be in peril and GOP House losses could climb well into the double digits. A Donald Trump nomination would not only make Clinton’s election very likely and raise the odds of a Democratic Senate; it could force down-ballot Republicans to repudiate Trump to survive, increase pressure on a center-right candidate to mount an independent bid and split the GOP asunder.

In other words, if you’re a member of the Republican Party who wants to win in November, it’s basically Rubio or bust. The “Rubio or bust” theory relies on a process of elimination rather than an assessment of his biography, skills or ground game.

Feel free to disagree with this analysis below, but I think this sounds about right. Read the rest of Wasserman’s essay here.


  • Ian Shaw


    I find much commonsense in your statement as well as the piece linked.

    Do you think if Carson got the nomination (he most likely will not-shame), he’d lose to Hillary?

    • Lynn Burgess

      IMO Carson would win over Hillary in a landslide with a lot of Dems voting for him. A Carson/Cruz ticket would be perfect. Carson to unite the nation and Cruz behind him assisting with governing, navigating legislation, etc. Carson is who we most need to address our greatest need as a nation, the foundational moral issues and to unite us. His speaking to the racism in abortion would go far on that front. His motivating those on welfare etc. is the best kind of entitlement reform, etc., etc. Sadly, the media even at Fox do not see him as a viable candidate and do not give him fair play and opportunity for the nation to know how well he has prepared.

      • Derek Taylor

        I’m with you, Lynn. I share your wish that Carson will pull off a miraculous recovery, because it looks like that’s what it will take to save his campaign.

        True, many will tepidly cast a vote for Rubio in the general election, should he be the nominee. Many others who used to reliably vote for the Republican no longer consider themselves “Republicans Who Want To Win”, to use the linked article’s headline.

    • Matt Martin

      Carson’s damaged from his bizarre theories & statements. Polls already show Clinton beating beat him. The only viable candidates that strengthen the party’s chances are Rubio and Kasich. The problem with Kasich is that he isn’t well known. And he’s a moderate, which doesn’t go over too well in Republican primaries in this political climate. But he brings Ohio with him. He’s reasonable. And can work with the other side.

      But this is just a bizarre election. Two of the most hated politicians ever (if you can call Trump a politician) are winning the polls for the Republican nomination. Even within the Republican Party, nobody likes these guys on a personal level. Anger is ruling the day and it’s going to be the downfall of Republicans this year.

  • Christiane Smith

    Some think it no longer matters who the Republican Party leadership chooses. If the polls are anywhere near accurate, and the crowd sizes mean something, this has become a populist movement and the Party ‘leaders’ have lost control over the process. It’s become quite a show.

    • Lynn Burgess

      Christine: Is the Republican Party Leadership supposed to be in control and are they supposed to choose the candidates?

      In once sense your statement sounds ridiculous to me, but my question is sincere. Every now and again we vote for our GOP State Committee (or whatever it is called) and there are Tea Party people always trying to unseat the establishment and I am often unsure the best way to vote. I have sometimes tried to track down candidates and ask them questions and I still do not know how to vote.

  • Shaun DuFault

    The idea that it is Rubio or bust before a single vote is cast is a bit of a stretch of shear speculation. We want to “trust” polls that have very little to any accuracy? It seems sad that from a moral perspective, that people would want to put all their eggs into the basket of Rubio who clearly states that he is in full alignment with Roman Catholic theology and doctrine.

    If that is true, we as Christians seeing that this abjuration of Christianity has brought in ecumenicism of the world religions, rejection of Capitalism, and honestly thumbing their nose on the Reformation. How do we who see the fruition of bad theology and then think a person who claims to follow it to a tee is best for the highest office in the land.

    There is a big disconnect here.

  • pauldreed2

    I agree with David Wasserman. Either the Republicans will nominate Rubio, or Hillary Clinton will win the election. Trump and Cruz can’t win a general election. If Trump or Cruz wins the Republican nomination, Hillary Clinton will be our next president. So instead of getting a president (Rubio) who we at least support some of the time, we’ll get a president (Clinton) who we loathe and revile all the time.

    • Lynn Burgess

      I have no problem voting for Rubio. He is not my first choice or even my second, but he is far more good than bad and there is no perfect candidate. We do not vote until mid-March and by then it will be more clear who has a chance to win. I am a bit pragmatic about voting and believe in voting for someone who can win but for early voters that is not so clear and in a way their votes are especially important because they set the tone for the election and especially this cycle.

      Nobody runs for president without a very healthy ego, but some are hugely egotistical more than they are wanting to serve the nation and I believe that Rubio is true blue in that respect. He loves America and he is overall a conservative. I look for Bush to withdraw at some point and endorse Marco. If Huckabee and Santorum withdraw and endorse Trump, I will lose all hope in mankind. I could not believe that they attended Trump event.

      But… what if Hillary does not run… I read this morning that she has been very sick… search for it on the web… and I wonder if the “email” stress is taking a toll on her health and/or if she hopes to use her health to stay out of prison. If Hillary is indicted or otherwise drops out of the race everything changes. If Hillary withdraws and Trump is GOP candidate a third party candidate may win and maybe we need a new Conservative Party. I do not know the deadlines for someone to get on the ballot in November.

  • dannywoodall

    I see Rubio not getting the nomination, and Hillary wining and serving one term. Then look for Rubio to win in 2020 and serve two terms. I have always seen Reagan and Obama as basically the same. They are not as bad as their critics say and not as good as their supporters think. President Reagan was much better at communicating and that was why people liked him. President Bush (41) had to clean up the mess left behind by Reagan’s let the good times roll policies. It cost him the election in 1992. President Clinton’s main failure was moral than political. We repeat the pattern with President Obama followed by technocrat Hillary. Hopefully Rubio will restore sanity to the political process. Comparing President Reagan and President Obama is not popular with Democrats and Republicans, a sure sign that it is correct. At least President Reagan knew how to be presidential. President Obama has been clueless in this area. Trump is a bulldozer sent by the establishment to bulldoze the right. Cruz is a third-string quarterback convinced he should be the starter. the two Presidents I most admire, President Ford and President Bush (41). Quick lesson in politics. At the grassroots level they encourage fighting back and forth while in Washington they sit back and watch, They never solve problems, only rotate them. Then they split the money. My two-cents worth,

    • Lynn Burgess

      Danny: “Trump is a bulldozer sent by the establishment to bulldoze the right.” Somehow I doubt that Trump was “sent” by anyone beyond his own ego but it’s a very cute statement.

      “Cruz is a third-string quarterback convinced he should be the starter.” Wasn’t Tom Brady once a third string quarterback and doesn’t he now try to always stay on the field for fear of his backup(s) replacing him?

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