Sadly, it appears that New Hampshire may have muddied the GOP field, rather than clarifying it. Even though Kasich and Jeb do not have obvious paths forward to the nomination, they are going to convince themselves that they do, at least through Super Tuesday – and they will probably find donors who will indulge that belief. Somewhere, Donald Trump is smiling about it all.
However, we can at the very least say “sayonara” to three Republicans who have absolutely no path forward after tonight, not even in their own heads. First of all is Ben Carson. After finishin a very distant fourth in Iowa, and dead last in New Hampshire, it is clear that Carson has absolutely no shot at the nomination. None. Zero. His polling is going into the toilet, he’s hemorrhaging the last of his legitimate campaign staff, and he’s in this for the sole reason of taking votes from Ted Cruz.
The second is Carly Fiorina. Fiorina can’t make debate stages anymore, she can’t get traction in New Hampshire, she can’t even get on the media as a candidate. Fiorina might end up being a talented surrogate and maybe VP candidate for one of the candidates down the road, but the longer she stays in the race, the longer she takes votes from someone who might win, and thus diminishes her chances. I expect Fiorina will bow out soon.
The third is Chris Christie. Christie blew his entire wad on taking down Marco Rubio in the debate on Saturday night. I suspect Marco Rubio will bounce back, but Christie clearly made a dent for now. Unfortunately, Christie himself is an unlikable jackass, and whatever votes he pried away from Rubio went somewhere else as a consequence. Christie stealthily tried to surprise people in Iowa, and Iowa voters ended up summarily rejecting him. Then he REALLY went all in on New Hampshire, and he looks headed for a sixth place, single-digit finish. It’s over for Christie, and I hope he enjoyed his moment in the sun.
But the good news for Christie is that he’ll have a lengthy career ahead of him hugging Democrats, if he wants it. All he has to do is keep attacking Republicans who can win, and I’m sure he’ll find the media is just as interested in talking to him as they have been for the last weekend.