TO THIS POINT
The Republican primary at this point is a three person race, but quickly becoming two. Donald Trump, the businessman who was supposed to be done many controversies ago, is surging in the delegate count with each passing state. As we get later into the primary season, the Republican establishment is becoming more desperate for unity behind an anti-Trump candidate.
Who is that anti-Trump candidate? Senator Marco Rubio.
Senator Rubio came in second in South Carolina and only stands to gain a significant boost with the departure of Jeb Bush from the race. Big party donors and mainstream Republicans are looking to the Senator now to take down Trump.
Senator Rubio’s colleague, Ted Cruz, is hitting a support roof and is being hurt by Ben Carson’s refusal to depart the race. Even though Carson isn’t polling significantly, he shares the same base as Senator Cruz: evangelical conservatives.
Senator Cruz is going to continue losing steam and this race will gradually become a tug-of-war match between Trump and Senator Rubio, a fight that represents a struggle for the party itself, beyond the actual nomination.
1. Donald Trump
2. Marco Rubio
3. Ted Cruz
4. John Kasich
5. Ben Carson
The dynamic of the race is interesting at this point. While Donald Trump is clearly the candidate on top, where everything else falls is complicated.
Senator Ted Cruz is hitting a roof with his limited appeal. Evangelical conservatives, a once-strong base for him, are shifting to Trump with the rest of the party. Ben Carson is claiming another chunk of this base and as long as he remains in, he will be a thorn in Senator Cruz’s side.
While Carson dropping out wouldn’t be an enormous boost to Senator Cruz, Governor John Kasich dropping out would be a slight boost to Senator Marco Rubio. At this point, any boost to either he or Senator Cruz would be welcome for the camps, as they’re closely dueling for second place.
The next day of voting for Republicans will be in one week on Super Tuesday, which promises to be an enormous game changer. While a lot can change between now and then, the polling is starting to roll in at RealClearPolitics.
The biggest prize that day, Texas’s 155 delegates, is currently polling with a lead for Senator Ted Cruz.
Current frontrunner Donald Trump is set to win big too, however. Trump has a 9 point lead in Georgia, who has 76 delegates. He also has a 6 point lead in Virginia, who has 49 delegates. Massachusetts is huge for Trump as well, where he polls an astonishing 34 points in the lead for their 34 delegates.
But like with everything else this bizarre primary season, the bigger story may be in the second place finish. Senator Cruz may have a significant lead in Texas, but Trump is right behind him for second and Senator Marco Rubio is far back in third.
In Georgia, Virginia, and Massachusetts, Senator Rubio is in second place with his colleague, Senator Cruz, in third.
If they’re still in the race come this point, the calls for Carson and Governor John Kasich to drop out will grow louder as the Republican establishment struggles to unite against Trump. The drop out calls could even extend to Senator Cruz, if the polling continues to show him to no longer be a viable anti-Trump candidate.