First, he delivers the Republican response to the State of the Union. Then Marco Rubio became a late-night comedy sensation with his ‘water break.’ Now, the Florida Senator is getting the Nate Silver treatment, as the New York Times‘ uber blogger examines how Rubio’s conservatism compares to the other men and women who might seek the Republican nomination in 2016 — and to other candidates, like Mitt Romney, that the G.O.P. has nominated recently?
There are several statistical methods that seek to rate candidates’ ideology on a left-right scale. FiveThirtyEight used three of these methods in evaluating the ideology of Senate candidates as part of our technique for forecasting those races. The same methods can be applied to presidential candidates.
The last two Republican presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney … were more moderate than Rubio. Rubio is also rated as being to the right of Ronald Reagan, who had a score of 44, and George W. Bush, who had a score of 46. Among Republican presidential nominees since 1960, in fact, only the extraordinarily conservative Barry Goldwater, who had a score of 67, rates as being more conservative than Rubio.
Rubio stands out less when compared to Republicans of today. Whereas in 1980 the average Republican member of Congress had a score of 30, the average Republican in the most recent Congress had a score of 48, very close to Rubio’s. Thus, Silver’s contention is that Rubio is a good representative of the Republican Party as it stands today.