This Sunday Marco Rubio had the biggest win of the entire GOP campaign so far, winning an overwhelming 71% of the popular vote in Puerto Rico, which triggered the territory’s “winner take all” rule. Rubio walks away from Puerto Rico with 23 delegates compared to zero for Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. This win comes just one day after “Super Saturday,” a disappointing day at the polls for Rubio, as he was only able to win 18 delegates out of the 155 up for grabs in Kentucky, Maine, Louisiana, and Kansas. His weak performance on Saturday prompted calls for him to back out. However, in his Saturday evening speech he vowed to stay in the race and promised the road ahead will be much more fruitful for his campaign.
Rubio’s decisive win on Sunday may have just saved his campaign, at least for the time being. First, after this weekend’s results it is clear Donald Trump does not have the GOP nomination locked up. Trump was beaten in 3 of the 5 primaries this weekend, winning only 53 out of the 178 delegates up for grabs. The delegate allocation at the end of the weekend bodes well for the possibility that no one Republican will be on track for the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination. This Sunday’s big win, preceded by Cruz beating Trump in Kansas and Maine, also evidences potential cracks in Trump’s support and at least temporary halt to his coronation as the presumptive nominee.
The next tests for Rubio’s campaign are in Hawaii and Florida. After his win today in Puerto Rico, traders on Predictit markets have Rubio shares doubling their value making him the favorite on the island state with its 19 delegates. Another win this Tuesday in Hawaii will be key for Rubio’s momentum going into his home state of Florida’s primary next week. Florida is a winner-take-all primary with 99 delegates. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio are all pumping millions of dollars and resources into Florida, and Rubio appears to be gaining ground on Trump’s lead. However, after Rubio’s 71% win in Puerto Rico, followed by Trump’s 13.6% and Cruz with 9% of the Puerto Rican vote, it is clear Rubio has an edge with the Hispanic voters. Florida has almost 850,000 Puerto Ricans and a total Hispanic population of over 4.3 million. These numbers could likely be a deciding factor in Florida’s primary and after Rubio’s huge win in Puerto Rico, he will most likely have the advantage of the Hispanic community.
If Rubio cannot win in Florida his campaign will most likely be over. However, if he can squeak out a win in Florida, and win Hawaii, this would likely guarantee a brokered GOP convention, where anything can happen. This upcoming week will be the most important by far in Marco Rubio’s campaign to be the next president of the United States.