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The truth about Marco Rubio's 'big' Minnesota win
Not so big, and trouble beneath the numbers
If you've heard anything from the Rubio faithful this morning, it probably contained some variation on the "Marcomentum" theme. They argue that last night's win in Minnesota marks a turning point for their chosen "underdog." He finally has a win under his belt, and supposedly that's going to snowball into big things down the road. That's nice spin, but it doesn't hold up under scrutiny.
Rubio really only won one thing in Minnesota last night: Ted Cruz can no longer claim to be "the only candidate" who's managed to take a state from Donald Trump. That's about it. Here's why.
First, it's the delegates that matter. Winning a state sounds great, but Minnesota awards delegates proportionately. Last night's vote breaks down like this, via the NYT:
Team Rubio is crowing about claiming its first state but, if the goal is to show that you can go the distance in terms of delegate count, this didn't do much to help. Far from being a sign of burgeoning momentum, a 14-10 spread is basically a wash.
You also have to think about the state itself. Much like Vermont with its decades long love-affair with Bernie Sanders, Minnesota has a long history of electing people who simply aren't viable at the national level. Don't forget, this is the state that gave you Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Comedian-Senator Al Franken.
Finally, Minnesota was the only state that refused to vote for Ronald Reagan back in 1984. In defiance of the rest of the nation, the state went for Walter Mondale. That's not a good omen for a guy who likes to invoke Reagan's name during virtually every appearance.
To be blunt, using Minnesota as a litmus test for political potential is a fool's errand.
It's clear that the establishment is desperate to hang its hat on Rubio as the "only viable" 2016 candidate. However, if this is the best evidence they can offer in support of their "underdog" candidate - particularly considering Rubio's Florida polling - they're out on a very narrow limb.
The unfortunate truth is that this isn't a movie. In the real world, underdogs usually lose.