Like It or Not, After New Hampshire, It’s a Two Man Race Between Trump and Cruz
Since the modern primary system kicked in back in 76, no Republican has won without taking Iowa or New Hampshire. Since Cruz took Iowa and Trump was expected to take New Hampshire, that put Rubio in a difficult position.
However, Rubio’s team had an answer for that: 3rd in IA, 2nd in NH and 1st in SC. It hadn’t been done that way on the Republican side, but that did seem like a plausible path to the nomination.
Unfortunately, Rubio’s 5th place finish in NH means both Jeb and Kasich will stay in and split the establishment vote. It also means Rubio will probably be relegated to 3rd place in SC.
Keep in mind that Trump is in first in almost every state and he has a relatively solid base of support. He can definitely be beaten, but that is unlikely to happen unless the race narrows down to two candidates.
Cruz’s win in IA, his deep pockets and his 2nd place national standing means he’s definitely in through March.
The establishment lane can’t consolidate soon enough to make an impact and even if it does, it’s doubtful that any of them could beat Trump 1-on-1 in a rabidly anti-establishment year.
So, either the vote will consolidate around Cruz who can beat Trump 1-on-1 or all these candidates who can’t win will bleed support from Cruz and practically guarantee a Trump win.
PS: It is possible that enough delegates might be bled off of Trump and Cruz to throw the race into a brokered convention, but once the GOP gets to that point it’s between a rock and a hard place. I’m not a supporter of Donald Trump, but if he has the most delegates, he DESERVES to be the nominee. If the establishment were to rob Trump of the nomination at the convention, the backlash would be so enormous that it would practically guarantee a loss to the Democrats no matter whom the GOP selected as a nominee.
So, if Donald Trump is your guy, vote for him, but if you want someone other than Trump, it seems likely that your only realistic option at this point is Ted Cruz.