Florida Democrats are looking at the 2022 election with apprehension with the current even split in the Senate.
“For a variety of reasons, Rubio will be tough to beat — whether because it is an off-year election, his Miami roots or his profile,” Steve Vancore, a Democratic pollster and strategist, said.
“[T]hat’s hardly a surprise to anyone and I believe that is why there is an absence of big names lining up early.”
Rubio won by an 8-point margin in 2016, the last time he was up for re-election, according to The Hill.
Although his approval rating currently sits at under 50 percent, according to Politico, he isn’t expected to be easy to beat in 2022.
“For the cost of having a shot at Rubio, we could almost fund races in both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, so a lot of donors just see a Florida race as fool’s gold,” one national Democratic operative said, according to Politico.
Florida’s Democratic Party lost ground in the 2020 election; the GOP increased their majority in the state Legislature and more Republicans were sent to Congress.
Rubio is also Florida’s top Hispanic politician as a bilingual Cuban-American.
His home base is in Miami-Dade, which gives him an advantage in the state’s most populous county.
“Any Hispanic Republican statewide messes the math up terribly for Democrats,” Eric Johnson, an advisor for Rubio’s 2016 Democratic opponent, said.
“Once a Republican starts taking a chunk of the Hispanic vote, they’re almost unbeatable. And with Marco being from Miami-Dade County, it’s just really difficult to get there.”
The biggest obstacle in the Florida Senate race is former President Donald Trump’s strong performance in the state, especially in Miami-Dade County, in the 2020 election.
Trump won the state’s 29 electoral college votes with over 51 percent of the votes, WTVT-TV reported.
Democrats spent over $100 million to defeat Trump in The Sunshine State, according to Politico, and donors are worried about spending more money there instead of in other states where they could be more successful.
Some strategists believe Democrats’ best chance to beat Rubio would be if someone from the Trump family decides to run for Senate, specifically Ivanka Trump.
“The X-factor is Ivanka. If it’s her, he’s dead. It’s over,” former Republican strategist Rick Wilson said. “Ivanka has the Trump brand and it’s Trump’s party still. Marco Rubio, the fair-weather Trump ally, will become defined as history’s biggest nightmare in a Republican primary.”
He added that his group, the Lincoln Project is unlikely to spend money to try to target Rubio: “We’re not going to chase rabbits we can’t catch.”