My Analysis of the GOP Race
Here’s my take on the GOP race for what it’s worth. Please fell free to chime in with your thoughts.
Trump has the widest road to the nomination since of the five remaining candidates he has the largest base of support, about a third of GOP primary voters. After two smashing victories in N.H. and S.C., he is positioned to amass a large haul of delegates between now and March 15 since at least two of his opponents, Cruz and Rubio, and possibly Kasich and Carson as well, will continue splitting the non-Trump vote allowing Trump to win most of the primaries. Whether whoever ends up being the final anti-Trump will have enough time to amass a sufficient number of delegates to win the nomination, or at least deny Trump the nomination on the first ballot, remains an open question.
Rubio now seems to be best positioned to become the final anti-Trump thanks to his second place finish in S.C. Though he barely squeaked past Cruz for second, Rubio is positioned to receive a flood of endorsements and money thanks to the withdrawal of his primary establishment rival, Jeb Bush. However in order to challenge Trump for the nomination, he is going to have to actually start winning primaries, a difficult task with Cruz, Kasich and Carson all still in the race splitting the non-Trump vote. If Rubio limps into Florida March 15 with only a win in Minnesota to show for his efforts, its entirely possible he will lose there, and with that loss his campaign would be mortally wounded, IMO.
Cruz was badly damaged by his third place finish in S.C. A heavily evangelical state, S.C., like the southern states coming up on March 1, was central to his strategy of winning big early to knock his opponents out of the race and secure the nomination. Unfortunately for Cruz, Trump has taken his mantle of the anti-establishment candidate by not being a politician at all, and now instead of securing the nomination on Super Tuesday as he planned, Cruz is instead fighting just to stay in the race. Winning Texas will suffice to keep his campaign alive, but Cruz badly needs to win elsewhere as well, such as Arkansas, to have some momentum going into March 15 when he needs to knock Rubio and Kasich out of the race to become the final anti-Trump. Cruz’s strategy is complicated by the continued presence in the race of Ben Carson. Though Carson has no path to the nomination himself, he is winning the votes of socially conservative Republicans which Cruz desperately needs, and which could’ve secured second place for him in S.C.
Kasich only finished fifth in S.C. coming off his big second place finish in N.H., but since he made very little effort there and nevertheless practically tied two candidates who should’ve outperformed him in the South, Bush and Carson, it did little damage to the very narrow path he has to the nomination. It depends on surviving long enough to become the anti-Trump by the process of elimination; first by pulling off an upset win in Michigan March 8, then winning the winner-take-all primary in his home state of Ohio March 15. Needless to say, Kasich is a long shot.
Ben Carson is on an extended book tour and has no path to the nomination. Since he is only going through the motions of running for President, he could stay in the race indefinitely; even finishing dead last in a favorable state for him, S.C., was not sufficient to cause him to withdraw. In the meantime, he is making life for Ted Cruz a lot more complicated.