It is early in the morning as I write this and the never-ending process of counting votes from the Nevada caucuses goes on. It is clear that Trump won big, as he was expected to do. Rubio and Cruz look to be locked into another tight battle, although it appears at this point that Rubio will emerge victorious for second place.
Carson and Kasich are still stick around, clinging to their deluded dreams that have literally no chance of coming true.
Rubio accomplished most of what he needed to accomplish in Nevada tonight. It looks, at this point, that he will end up beating Cruz by 4-5% points. This allows him to continue to sell the narrative that he is waxing and Cruz is waning. But he did not score any kind of stunning win or knockout punch by vastly exceeding expectations. Cruz under performed again, but not by enough to convince him to seriously change direction or drop out of the race.
Here's what's maddening about this race. The ascendancy of Rubio, particularly in the South, likely forecloses any chance Cruz has at winning the nomination. As Dan McLaughlin pointed out earlier today, the simple math of this year's GOP nominating calendar means that if Cruz indeed doesn't score a knockout blow against Trump on Super Tuesday, he is done for, even if every other candidate in the race drops out March 2nd. But there's still no way Cruz can drop out now, with all the money he has on hand, and with Texas coming up on Super Tuesday.
There's also no way Marco Rubio drops out when he is clearly on the way up, even though after Super Tuesday he will likely be behind Cruz in the delegate count (again, thanks largely to Texas). Being behind Cruz in the delegates is really going to matter then, even if Rubio has just outperformed Cruz in the Super Tuesday contests.
And Kasich and Carson will not drop out because Kasich is a delusional egomaniac, and Carson is running a scam, not a campaign.
And so we hurtle on towards the oblivion of Trump because the partisans of the various candidates who recognize Trump for the unfunny joke that he is refuse to let go of their delusions - delusions so massive that they are only eclipsed by the delusions of the candidates themselves.
Every damn election conservatives do this, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, squabbling over allegiances to candidates who have no shot but who we want to see do well because we believe in helping to elevate their profile - meanwhile, a more moderate candidate gets rammed down our neck while we're all backbiting and infighting.
Only this time, the stakes are not conservative vs. moderate, they are conservative versus catastrophically incompetent fake Republican buffoon and possible Hillary Clinton stalking horse who will likely end the party as we know it and send the country into decades of Democrat rule.
We've got one shot at preventing total meltdown, and that's an agreement to select a single candidate as soon as possible after Super Tuesday, and to ride that horse, even if it's not our favorite horse, against Donald Trump. The candidates have one more week to make their case and then it's time to start acting like adults, before the children take over for good.