On Rubio and Second-Place Syndrome

Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio

On the Surface

Marco Rubio announced his candidacy in May. While he’s liked by many in the GOP and a viable candidate, second-place syndrome means that he is unlikely to secure the nomination.

Second-Place Syndrome

Rubio is indeed a serious candidate; 56 percent of Republican voters say they would vote for him, and he has the backing of major donors. But Rubio has a problem: he’s everyone’s second-favorite (hence, “second-place syndrome”). And in a field as crowded as the Republicans’, first choices abound for every type of voter: moderate-leaning Republicans have Jeb Bush, more conservative-leaning voters have Scott Walker, libertarians have Rand Paul, and super-conservative voters have Ted Cruz. So while Rubio may have mass appeal, each section of the base already has a more concrete champion.

While Rubio has an ambitious agenda, his actual accomplishments in the Senate are scant, something his opponents will be sure to seize upon. His only hope is for his biggest rivals (Bush and Walker in particular) to tear each other apart in the hopes that he will be the last one standing. But the slim likelihood of that means that Rubio’s hopes of the presidency will go unrealized in 2016.

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