Here’s a strange thought, but one that we can back up with facts. If Marco Rubio is going to have any chance at all of continuing in the Presidential race and superseding Ted Cruz as the alternative to Donald Trump, he will have to do well in Maine on Saturday. Yes, Maine.
You are probably wondering how we came to this conclusion. It’s odd, we know, but hear us out. Maine is one of the few states that is having a caucus with no polls telling us what to expect. This is important because a case can be made that some of Donald Trump’s success has come from strong polling numbers. People like voting for a winner, so polling strong in a state is certain to help the frontrunner pick up a percentage point or two. That’s just human nature.
What’s more important to note is that if Rubio can eventually go beyond Cruz and take on Trump head-to-head, he’ll need to do well in the northeast. As a young, well-funded candidate, he should be beating moderate John Kasich simply because he has a better chance of winning against Trump or Cruz. That hasn’t been the case so far. In New Hampshire, he was an embarrassment finishing 5th and he was a distant third in Vermont where Kasich fell to Trump by less than 1500 votes.
We’re going into Maine’s “Super Saturday” caucus with no data. The candidates have their own data and being a caucus state should favor Cruz a bit, but only if Rubio fails in the state. That brings us to our blind prediction: either Rubio or Cruz will WIN Maine. As crazy as it sounds to believe that Texas Ted could resonate in the northest-eastest state in the Republic, he has an opportunity to prove his organization’s skills at caucusing by coming away with a victory. On the other hand, if Rubio is putting in the effort, he’s the more suitable choice.
Now we’ll give our boldest prediction yet: not only will Cruz or Rubio win, but the other will finish third or even fourth. That’s how caucuses work. It’s feast or famine. Trump’s inability to organize and Kasich’s lack of resources mean that their voters are locked in. They’ll get what they get and they’ll likely end up with Trump in 2nd and Kasich in third or fourth (depending on the Cruz/Rubio loser).
If Rubio is able to caucus well, he’ll pull the votes towards him from Cruz. If Cruz caucuses better, he’ll pull from Rubio. That means that on Saturday based upon what happens in Maine, we’ll know if Rubio is in it for the long haul with a 1st place finish or if he’s all but done with a third or fourth place finish. Cruz can survive if he loses Maine. Rubio is toast if he can’t pick up a single Northeast state before his home state of Florida. A loss in Maine means a humiliation in Florida.