[Editor’s note: I wrote this post a week ago. I promptly forgot to publish it. Rubio’s departure from the primary this evening simultaneously reminded me of its existence and rendered it obsolete. C’est la vie.]
Last week [Editor’s note: two weeks ago], in the immediate wake of Super Tuesday, The Daily Show put together a segment contrasting the Rubio campaign’s persistent optimism with Marco’s underwhelming performance in the Republican primaries so far:
Trevor Noah, host: Hasan, tough night for the senator.
Hasan Minhaj, senior Rubio campaign correspondent: Exactly, Trevor. It is just like the Rubio campaign planned.
TN: I’m sorry, his plan was to lose every state but Minnesota?
HM: It’s all a part of the strategy, Trevor. Phase one: lose 14 out of the first 15 states. Phase two: everyone thinks Rubio’s done, so they drop their guard just in time for Kansas this Saturday.
TN: I see. So then he wins in Kansas.
HM: No, that’s too easy. He comes in third, and then fifth place in Colorado.
TN: Fifth place? There’s only four candidates.
Minhaj goes on to conjure increasingly fantastical scenarios that might allow Rubio to capture the nomination — for instance: Idaho and Oregon become Idagon, a typo causes Donald
Stump Trump to lose in New York, and so on.
But hard as it may be to believe, it turns out that the Daily Show writers appear to have employed something of an overactive imagination. As a result, they needlessly invented more improbable outcomes than were strictly necessary to demonstrate how much of a long shot Rubio’s campaign currently truly is [Editor’s note: was].
Now, it’s true that Rubio lost 14 of the first 15 states. And it’s also true that Kansas voted a few days later (Rubio placed third, just according to plan). But when Minhaj asserted Marco would come in fifth in Colorado, the segment needlessly went way overboard.
Noah’s response to that assertion seized on the obviously unrealistic element of the plan: he noted that there are only three other Republican candidates for Rubio to potentially place behind. But that’s not the real problem here. After all, Minhaj’s scenario turned out to be uncomfortably accurate: Rubio’s performance in Michigan came closer to falling behind “Other” — into fifth place — than it did to overtaking Kasich.*
The real problems with the plan Minhaj presented are actually two-fold: First, that Colorado had already caucused at the time this segment hit the airwaves (and long before Kansas voted). And second, that Colorado only held a Democratic caucus, and is not holding a Republican primary or caucus in any form during the 2016 election cycle.
In other words, Idaho and Oregon are actually more likely to merge into Idagon than Rubio ever came to placing fifth in Colorado — and we all know that’s never going to happen: After all, everybody knows that Oregon is, has always been, and always will be Idaho’s Portugal.
*And — at least according to no less an authority than Larry Wilmore — Rubio did place 5th in Mississippi: