Election 2020

Nate Silver Remains a ‘Rubio Optimist’ for 2016

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) arrives for a campaign stop Feb. 16, 2016, in Summerville, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Statistician Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight blog, said he is optimistic about Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) chances for the GOP presidential nomination, describing Rubio as someone who appeals to all sectors of the Republican Party.

Silver, who correctly predicted the results in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the 2012 presidential election, was asked to name the candidate he considers “underrated” in the GOP race at the moment.

“I think the markets are fairly close to correct right now – but, you know, I have been a Rubio optimist for a while on the theory that he is the only candidate who really has appeal to all the various sectors and constituencies within the GOP, which may be a fraying party but still he has the highest favorability ratings in the party. I think he speaks the language of conservatives without being too extreme,” he said during an event Tuesday at George Mason University.

He said “the big question” in the election right now is “where is Trump’s ceiling?”

“If you start at 25 percent like he did in Iowa – that’s one thing – 35 percent is much closer to the point where he would be hard to stop but even now you see in New Hampshire, even though he won with 35 percent of the vote, half of the Republicans there said they would not want him as their nominee,” he said. “So the question is, can the non-Trump candidates organize themselves into one candidate and then does he stop at 35 percent or 40 or 45 or 51? If he stops at 51 then it kind of doesn’t matter.”

Silver first turned heads in the presidential prognosticating world when he accurately predicted the winner of 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 general election.

Silver weighed in the 2016 Democratic race, predicting that if it ended up as a tie between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Clinton would ultimately win with superdelegates.

When asked which candidate will be in the White House in 2020, Silver said he would go with Clinton as a “boring pick” but his second pick is Donald Trump or Marco Rubio.

“I think it’s close between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. Although I think Trump may be a one-termer,” he said.

Silver described his personal politics as libertarian.

“I’m enough of a kind of ‘lower case l’ libertarian where I think that the government ought to have a stronger reason to intervene in choices that people are making instead of a lesser reason necessarily – you know, to me it clearly makes no sense to treat marijuana as being a more serious substance than alcohol, for example,” he said.

“I don’t think in my heart of hearts if I were running for office or in the Senate or something that I would vote for a bill that legalized heroin or cocaine but decriminalizing it – perhaps, but I don’t know.”