Is Marco Rubio rising in national polls, following his official announcement last week that he’s running for president?
He is, in one at least – a CNN/ORC survey out Monday that’s got Senator Rubio’s supporters abuzz.
The CNN numbers have Rubio tied for third place in the Republican nomination field with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, at 11 percent. That’s a big jump for the Floridian, who drew only 6 percent support in CNN/ORC’s last poll, in February.
Rubio does even better on a subsidiary measure in the survey. He’s tied for first with Jeb Bush when respondents answered the question, “Who best represents the future of the Republican Party?” Marco and Jeb get 18 percent apiece on that query. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is third in the “future” race, at 10 percent.
“The poll suggests Rubio’s campaign rollout has helped raise his profile in the party, boosting him into the top five in the overall race for the GOP nomination,” writes CNN polling director Jennifer Agiesta.
Well, maybe. But this is just one survey. In the RealClearPolitics rolling average of major polls, Rubio totals only 8.3 percent. That ties him for fifth, with Senator Cruz.
And fifth is not the goal here, remember. Running fifth in the GOP nomination race won’t even qualify you for a Fox News analyst contract after you lose.
What Rubio wants to see is enough of a boost from his campaign announcement to put him consistently with Mr. Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the top tier, leaving Cruz, Senator Paul, et al, behind.
That’s because to this point, Rubio is a bit of an underperformer. Young, articulate, charismatic, he represents a distinct contrast to GOP nominees of the recent past. But he lags far behind Bush, the consensus establishment pick. He doesn’t capture the imagination of any faction within the party, as Cruz does with right-leaning tea partyers.
Young, charismatic candidates can break out early. At this point in the 2008 election cycle, then-Sen. Barack Obama had already reached 25 percent in the polls in a crowded Democratic field, points out Nate Cohn of "The Upshot."
Yes, we’re just at the beginning of the race. But it gets late early in presidential politics, to paraphrase Yogi Berra. Rubio’s like a top draft pick who needs to pick up his game if he’s truly going to become an all-star, Mr. Cohn writes.
“No one would be stunned if he ultimately did so, but maybe it’s no longer the likeliest course,” muses "The Upshot" writer.