If Rubio Fails to Win a Single State Tuesday, He's Still Alive
He can still pile up delegates, Upshot blog explains
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2016 9:54 AM CST
Marco Rubio walks onto the stage for Thursday's debate in Houston.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Gary Coronado, Pool)

(Newser) – Whether Marco Rubio's aggressive performance in Thursday's debate translates into success on Super Tuesday remains an open question, but the Upshot blog has some hopeful news for his campaign: Even if Donald Trump sweeps all the states in play—and polls suggest he has a decent chance of doing that—Rubio remains very much alive. The main reason is that Republicans forbid winner-take-all contests prior to March 15, meaning Rubio (and Ted Cruz) can still pile up delegates for second and third place. The blog floats the possibility of Trump winning the day with a 34-25-25 percent split over the other two, in line with his previous victories. That would give him 279 delegates and Rubio 164. "It’s a respectable tally for Mr. Rubio, even though he loses every state," writes Nate Cohn.

Ideal? No, but it keeps him afloat until March 15, when big winner-take-all states such as Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, and Rubio's home state of Florida come into play. At this point, Rubio would have to win some of those to have any hope of beating Trump. If not, his "chances of winning a majority of delegates would all but evaporate." Of course, Rubio hopes to pull off some victories on Tuesday, and FiveThirtyEight notes that his campaign is spending heavily in Virginia and Georgia to make that happen. He's also spending big in Texas, which has the most delegates at stake, for a different reason. Because it's Cruz's home turf, Texas is where Rubio is most vulnerable to failing to receive 20% of the vote, the threshold for receiving any delegates at all.