Faces of the Republican Party



44-year-old Florida Senator Marco Rubio is the youngest of the remaining presidential candidates Rubio won the Minnesota primary election held on Super Tuesday, his first win of the election.

As the 2016 primary elections continue in full swing, it is evident that the political landscape is changing drastically. More specifically, the face of the Republican Party is changing. 

The tenth Republican debate concluded on Thursday, and according to recent poll numbers, there are three candidates with strong enough numbers to potentially win the party’s nomination: Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. Rounding out the group of five are candidates Ben Carson and John Kasich, who continue their attempts to secure the nomination despite significant losses in most states.

Two candidates in particular seem to indicate a shift in the preferences of Republican voters. Donald Trump appeals to the faction within the party that is upset with the establishment as it is. In an appeal that largely mirrors that of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, Trump resounds with voters that are fed up with the status quo in Washington today.

But then there is Marco Rubio. In contrast with the attitudes of many politicians (both sides of the aisle), this forty-four year old Cuban American has proven that he is willing to compromise with members of the Democratic party. 

According to Ryan Prisock, graduate law student at Washington University in St. Louis and former Missouri Southern alumni, Rubio “recognizes that you cannot govern without both sides, and that the president of the United States must be the President to all, not just those who voted for him.”

Describing Rubio’s transition from a candidate strongly backed by the Tea Party in his first national Senate seat bid to the more moderate conservative of today, Dr. William Delehanty, Associate Professor of Political Science, had some insight.

“Rubio becomes more pragmatic and realizes that if he’s going to help pass policy, it’s not always the case that you can be strictly focused solely on your own political goals- you have to seek a compromise,” said Delehanty. 

While this may seem like a positive approach for any politician to take, it does not always endear one to the more partisan wings of their political party. 

“It turns out that his compromise and cooperation, particularly with president Obama, has become a source of political difficulty for Rubio,” said Delehanty. ”Rubio isn’t seen isn’t seen as conservative enough…for current republican primary voters.”

The current problem for the Florida Senator: he hasn’t won any primaries. A strong Super Tuesday showing (with at least some states being won) is crucial if Rubio is to keep his presidential bid alive.

Because of his success in other states, Trump is currently the man to beat. But what would a Trump victory mean for Rubio?

According to Delehanty, Rubio might be an attractive vice presidential candidate because he has connections with both the GOP establishment and more conservative groups like the Tea Party. 

Additionally, a Trump-Rubio ticket may boost the Republican party’s chance at attracting more of the minority vote, which has traditionally gone to the Democrats. As a more moderate Cuban American, Rubio may be the candidate to change the face of the Republican party.