So now we say goodbye to Marco Rubio. Early predictions and early hopes about this very talented candidate proved overly optimistic. The coroners who autopsy failed political campaigns will point to multiple pathologies – failure to read the angry mood of the electorate and an over-reliance on personal narrative as the son of immigrants being chief among them.
But the proximate cause of death will be Rubio’s unwillingness to work at it hard enough. During the summer, Rubio all but disappeared. Unlike Cruz, who set up offices all over Iowa and who spent enormous amounts of time in the state, Rubio went all but unseen. One Rubio door-knocker in Iowa told the story of having to go home to print his own campaign literature, so under-prepared was the Rubio Iowa campaign.
One rival accused Rubio of running for president from a TV studio.
By the time Rubio suspended his campaign last night, he had won only three states, none of which mattered. No one has been elected president without winning one or another of Iowa and New Hampshire and Rubio didn’t come close in either of them.
In the end, it will be determined that for all of his obvious talent, Marco Rubio simply got outworked.
Ohio governor John Kasich won his home state last night. It’s purely a symbolic victory, however. Kasich has no path to the nomination. He would need 111 percent of the remaining 992 delegates in order to arrive in Cleveland with the requisite 1,237.
So it’s now a contest between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Donald Trump has a clear lead but it’s not yet in the bag.
His mathematics are as follows. He has 621 delegates now. He needs another 616 to clinch the nomination outright. There are 992 delegates still in play. He’ll need just under two out of three of them. 556 of those 616 delegates come from winner-take-all states. The big prize is California with 172.
The math is more daunting for Ted Cruz. His delegate count stands at 396. He’ll thus need 841 of the remaining 992 – or 85 percent – in order to have the nomination clinched by the time the party arrives in Cleveland.
Trump’s math is difficult but possible. Cruz’s math is unlikely to the point of impossibility.
If Trump cannot get 621 delegates of his own by June, it will boil down to a question of what happens to the 306 delegates that are split roughly equally between Rubio and Kasich.
Rubio has suspended his campaign. Kasich hasn’t but should.
But neither of them is yet finished with the 2016 presidential race.