Marco Rubio is damaged goods
© Greg Nash

Let’s dispel with this fiction that Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioI'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement Florida looms large in Republican 2024 primary MORE would make for a strong Senate candidate in Florida. Marco Rubio is damaged goods, and should he flip-flop on his retirement plans, he’ll face a difficult path to victory this November.  

First, a reminder to those with short memories: Rubio only won in 2010 because he was running in a 3-person contest. He has never won 50% of votes in a statewide general election in Florida, and in 2010, despite being the best year Republicans had seen in generations, more people voted for another candidate on Election Day. Running in a head-to-head race against a Democrat would be a dramatically different race, so even without the failed Presidential run, he would be just as vulnerable today as Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBiden's FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee The 10 races that will decide the Senate majority Manchin, Sanders will oppose Biden FDA nominee Califf MORE, Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBiden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Senators to meet with Ukraine president to reaffirm US support MORE, and Pat Toomey.

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Similarly, running in a Presidential year in Florida is not the same as running in a midterm year. President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Biden nominates Jane Hartley as ambassador to UK To boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill MORE won Florida twice, and Senator Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Energy & Environment — Earth records its hottest years ever Global temperatures in past seven years hottest ever observed, new data show NASA welcomes chief scientist, senior climate adviser in new dual role MORE ran ahead of the President in 2012 by more than a quarter million votes. In fact, Republicans haven’t won Florida in a presidential year since 2004, and the state’s demographics don’t suggest they’ll fare differently this November.

Beyond the challenges Republicans face running statewide in Florida in a presidential year, Rubio brings unique flaws as a candidate that will further hurt him with voters. He has shown a disdain for his job in the Senate, so much so that he simply stopped showing up. His frequent absenteeism was so bad that it prompted calls for his resignation, and a prominent supporter famously couldn’t name a single one of Rubio’s senate accomplishments.  For someone who has spent his first term neglecting his responsibilities to Florida, it’s difficult to see how voters send him back to the job he has refused to do to date.  

And finally, should he run, “Little Marco” gets Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE at the top of the ticket -- a misogynistic, racist bully, who could drive record Democratic turnout in opposition to his candidacy. Ironically, the same man who embarrassingly dispatched Rubio’s presidential aspirations will similarly make Rubio’s life very difficult in a hypothetical reelection battle. If you’re imagining a rehash of the Trump-Rubio attacks on one another from the primary resurfacing in the fall, you wouldn’t be alone, and they could hurt both campaigns.

When you look at Rubio’s record from the last five years, it’s easy to see why he has a negative approval rating in Florida. Now, even prominent national conservatives are turning on him, with one recently writing that Rubio has been “exposed” for being “an opportunistic politician with his finger to the wind.” He definitely wouldn’t start the race from a place of strength.

Republicans may think Rubio is a better candidate than the hopefuls currently running in Florida, but that’s not a glowing endorsement. When you factor in the baggage Rubio would bring to a race, plus the difficulties of running in a Presidential year, you’re left with only one conclusion: Rubio is damaged goods, and his re-election would be anything but a sure thing.


Shah is the communications director for Senate Majority PAC, an organization dedicated to electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate. You can follow him on Twitter at @Shripal734.