As polls closed on Super Tuesday, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were the only candidates worth discussing. Trump's seven-state win—and his raucous speech-meets-press conference, haunted by the specter of Chris Christie—carried the news, while Cruz’s more modest showing earned him network coverage of his victory speech and an interview with Wolf Blitzer.
Marco Rubio, on the other hand, was off TV for most of the night. If not for a last-minute win in Minnesota, he'd be firmly in the also-ran column with John Kasich and Ben Carson. He now trails Trump and Cruz in delegates by a wide margin.
Not so good for the guy who many pundits reckoned to have the best chance to beat Trump. How-the-mighty-have-fallen is one of the most reliable tropes in American politics, and so it's easy to write off Rubio's thrashing as regrettable, but probably well-earned. You had your shot, Marco; quit complaining.
But the truth is that Rubio didn't deserve this.
By all accounts, it appears he finished a respectable third nationwide. Real Clear Politics calculates he won 22 percent of the Super Tuesday vote, compared to 30 percent for Cruz and 35 percent for Trump. But somehow Rubio ended up with just 17 percent of the delegates.