Sen. Marco Rubio raised a substantial $3 million in the second quarter, a 30% spike from the beginning of the year. The impressive haul came while Rubio was most vocal in promoting the Senate’s Gang of 8 immigration deal. Big business and top GOP megadonors are among the most vocal advocates of the Senate bill and clearly rewarded Rubio’s efforts.
Support from the GOP donor class is critical as Rubio contemplates running for President in 2016. Large donations from wealthy business leaders and Republicans are needed to maintain the SuperPACs and non-profits that are almost a requirement for a successful campaign.
Rubio faces a difficult balancing act, however. While his immigration bill is popular with megadonors to the party, it is unpopular with much of the party base that does the actual voting. A recent poll in Iowa, for example, found Rubio dropping from 1st to 5th in support among active Republicans.
In the days after passage of the Senate immigration bill, Rubio has been very publicly considering sponsoring legislation to prohibit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. The issue is popular with regular Republican voters. It is much less popular, however, with Rubio’s new friends in the donor class, who almost exclusively prefer the focus to be on economic issues.
Rubio faces a more fundamental challenge to his presidential aspirations, however; the calendar. Elected in 2010, Rubio is up for reelection in 2016. Unlike some other states, Florida doesn’t allow candidates to run for multiple offices. Rubio would have to choose between running for a second term or launching a bid for President.
Support from the entire GOP donor class can’t overcome that hurdle.