Last night was a Donald Trump win, period. A YUGE win. For context: Donald Trump beat second place, John Kasich, by more votes (currently 51,000) than Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton (currently 50,000).
A resounding victory for the vulgarian rebel alliance. Today, rejoice, dance well, be of good cheer and enjoy.
However, come sunrise we meet at the old mill, and ride south.
What does last night mean for the GOPe road map? That’s where it gets interesting.
Forget John Kasich; he is irrelevant as an individual candidate. Kasich has no organization, no structural pathway, no ballot access and is not a national candidate. However, his future endorsement of the GOPe candidate (Rubio or Bush) does bring with it his NH delegates…. but that is all.
The biggest loser is also one of our biggest loses, Governor Chris Christie. By coming in sixth, Christie has failed to make the cut for the upcoming CBS debate.
Debate Qualifications: Top three finish in Iowa, or Top five finish in New Hampshire, or top five polling nationally or in South Carolina. (link)
In addition to the debate issues and a financial hurdle, the sixth place finish essentially eliminates any path for Chris Christie. [Team Marco Rubio collectively breathe a sigh of relief.] However, with Christie gone – Jeb Bush also loses a key strategic partner for his own electoral pathway forward.
On the heels of a robotic debate performance, and with a poor fifth place New Hampshire finish, South Carolina just shifted into the MUST WIN column for Marco Rubio.
Rubio’s national strategy is dependent on building upon itself. We can expect some fireworks between camp Bush Super-PAC and camp Rubio Super-PAC over the next ten days as Rubiobot tries to ensure he regains his footing.
The CBS South Carolina debate is structurally set up to be as beneficial for Marco Rubio as the ABC New Hampshire debate was for Jeb Bush. New Hampshire was old GOPe money (Bush), South Carolina is new GOPe money (Rubio).
There’s a reason why Dana Perino lives amid her peers in South Carolina.
The FNB North Charleston GOP debate was filled with a Pro-Rubio audience, expect the same thing again with the CBS version. Remember, Paul Ryan and DC leadership approved the text of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s State of the Union response speech against Donald Trump. Nikki Haley was/is lined up to be a top-tier Rubio or Bush VP pick (again, go back to the original road map).
Almost all of the DC GOPe players who are part of the South Carolina coalition will be aligned with Marco Rubio. Examples Tim Scott, Trey Gowdy et al. Lindsey Graham already endorsing Jeb Bush means all of the GOPe eggs are in the GOPe camp candidates. There will be a stacked audience in opposition to the vulgarian Trump.
Those who qualified for the debate include: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and possibly/tentatively Ben Carson (depending on Carson’s polling). No more than six candidates will be in that debate – and it could possibly be five.
With Jeb’s fourth place finish in New Hampshire, ahead of Rubio, he has reasserted himself as the GOPe primary frontrunner.
If Jeb can finish stronger than Rubio in South Carolina Jeb will have the momentum he needs to begin re-establishing his argument. But that’s going to be a challenge.
To achieve his objectives, and to settle the nerves of the donor class, we can expect Jeb to attack Donald Trump in an effort to project his strength. Jeb’s only real opportunity to do this is during the debate.
The victor of the Bush -v- Rubio contest will be determined by who can project themselves (to the donor class) as the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump. Again, old money and old party teams preferring Bush, new money and modern GOPe types preferring Rubio.
The curious questioning on why Carly Fiorina continues in the race will probably intensify. But Carly’s later endorsement is not really a question – it will be either Jeb or Rubio.
South Carolina is going to be a real bloodbath ! There’s an increasing sense of desperation – and to make matters worse, Bernie Sanders is looming large over Hillary Clinton.
Remember, meet at the old mill – we ride at sunrise. !!