With Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina exiting the race, we’re down to six viable candidates for the Republican nomination (because Jim Gilmore doesn’t count). So here’s an updated list of delegate count so far:
- Donald Trump — 17
- Ted Cruz — 11
- Marco Rubio — 10
- John Kasich — 5
- Jeb Bush — 4
- Ben Carson — 3
Next up is South Carolina, which has fifty delegates in a winner-take-all race. So pretty much it’ll be either Trump or Cruz; Trump because he’s popular everywhere with all kinds of voters, and Cruz because he rallied the evangelicals in Iowa and is likely to do it again in SC. That is, of course, if Ben Carson doesn’t get in his way. Not that Carson is going to have a resurgence (is resurgence the right word? did he surge in the first place?), but that he’s likely to draw some of those precious voters away. How precious? According to the Washington Post, 24% of those surveyed in Iowa are white evangelicals in comparison with South Carolina’s 33%. For Republicans, it’s very, very precious.
As for candidate popularity, the latest poll in SC was conducted in late January, before both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, so it’s hard to say what effect those results and the media fallout since then have had on voters’ opinions, but nevertheless the Donald was leading with 36%, trailed by Cruz in second (20%) and Rubio in third (14%). In that same poll Carson was behind even Jeb Bush with only 8%, but if the results are to be believed, that’s 8% that’s crucial to a Cruz victory. Still, who knows how many of those would side with Cruz at all; it’s just as likely half would jump ship to Trump.
The biggest point to take away here is to ignore talk about Kasich and Bush making any sort of resurgence; neither have had enough juice to make much of an impact so far, even barring Kasich’s performance in New Hampshire (which was still second place, and still less than half the votes Trump racked up), and several states voting on Super Tuesday are southern states—doubtful they’ll be too hot on either of their ‘moderate’ platforms. This race is between Trump and Cruz. Unless one of them gets hit by a bus, the only hope the establishment has of reigning in the beasts is a brokered convention, at which point the Republicans will have conceded they’ve no control over their own party.
UPDATE: Renowned idiot Bill Kristol tweeted this not long ago:
As the tweet reads, Kristol got the info from some trusted albeit anonymous source. Not that these numbers came from the same place, but if anyone needs reminding of Mr. Kristol’s, er, political prowess: