Who's Stayin' Alive After South Carolina?
Trump won, as was expected. The travesty is that it seems evangelicals supported him (despite him saying he doesn't know if he's ever asked God for forgiveness -- and asking God for forgiveness is kind of the key point of Christianity).
Jeb Bush was a better man than many expected him to be, and his concession speech was noble, worthy of his father and brother. If Jeb! could do one thing right, this was it.
Cruz's "victory" speech was not convincing. Rubio beat him (although only by a few hundred votes), and seems to be emerging as the viable establishment candidate. Cruz is still the only candidate who has beaten Trump in the past, but Rubio is likely to earn Bush's supporters, and that will help narrow the gap with The Donald.
The race is fundamentally between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. Ben Carson should drop out, but he won't. Kasich can rest on his second-place New Hampshire laurels for a while, but he likely won't go anywhere either.
If this crazy primary has proven anything (beyond Trump's zany celebrity), it is that the anti-Citizens United alarmists are dead wrong. Money doesn't buy elections -- Bush had the most money, and he lost the first three races and is gone before March. We don't need campaign finance reform to ensure voters will make the difference because, for good or ill, they already do.
South Carolina awards 50 delegates to the July Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. 29 are awarded to the winner, with 21 split up and three each given to the winners of the seven congressional districts. 1,239 delegates are required for a candidate to win the nomination.
Current projections are spotty, but it looks as though Trump may sweep the state, taking each congressional district, and gaining 50 delegates. Rubio is vying for South Carolina's first congressional district, although latest numbers show Trump ahead there, as well.
The AP count now has Trump up by 3,000 votes in SC-01, which would give him a full delegate sweep. I can't verify the accuracy of this data
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) February 21, 2016
Now that's quite a photo, Buzzfeed.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 21, 2016
And here's a cool Ted Cruz crowd shot.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 17, 2016
Breitbart's Ben Shapiro says it's up to Marco Rubio to offer Ted Cruz the VP slot or the Supreme Court nomination, so that Rubio can consolidate the anti-Trump vote and defeat him with delegates.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 21, 2016
This is a solid plan, but it neglects a key arguing point -- a lot of Cruz's support might end up going to Trump, thus undoing the central plan.
I’m actually going to retract my call for him to get out. I think all his supporters go to Trump anyway. https://t.co/pKPGYPzoPq
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) February 21, 2016
Lol -- this is right on.
Rubio -- It's a three-man race
Kasich -- It's a four-man race
Carson -- It's a five-man race
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) February 21, 2016
We should only add: Trump -- it's a one man race.
Following his second place finish in South Carolina (essentially tied with Cruz, behind Trump), Rubio -- and his campaign effort -- jumps into overdrive.
Rubio super PAC announces multi-state advertising effort https://t.co/3m7N6eGbQq
— POLITICO (@politico) February 21, 2016
And FiveThirtyEight is positive about its prediction that Jeb Bush would not be a strong contender for the GOP nomination.
On the LONG list of things we've gotten wrong/right this cycle, our early & often Jeb skepticism looks pretty good. https://t.co/gUhEgbiXdW
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 21, 2016
Cruz reminds supporters that he's the only candidate to have defeated Donald Trump. Rubio may have a lot of endorsements, but he has not won a single state.
“If you are a conservative this is where you belong because only one strong conservative is in a position to win this race … We are the only campaign that has beaten and can beat Donald Trump,” Cruz said. “I congratulate Donald on his victory tonight but I will say this to the people of America if you don’t believe that Donald trump is the best candidate to run against Hillary Clinton in November if you believe we need a strong contrast with the Democrats then we welcome you aboard our team.”
This is damning.
She has the name, the money, the machine, the superdelegates, and she still can't put away the 74 year old socialist.
— David Boaz (@David_Boaz) February 21, 2016
And Trump may have taken a beating for his anti-George W. Bush rants.
Debate hurt Trump without question. He was nearing 40 in RCP average before.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) February 21, 2016
Some say Cruz's loss to Trump tonight deals a huge blow to the Texas Senator's campaign.
— POLITICO (@politico) February 21, 2016
There are reasons to be skeptical, however. Cruz has long kept his eye on the March 1 primaries, which include Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, among others. He never promised a victory in South Carolina, only that it is friendly territory, and his third place finish (really a tie for second) doesn't entirely negate that.
Still, tonight looks much better for Rubio and Trump.
This race may come down to the Trump vs. the Anti-Trump. Evangelicals are reportedly split over who that is.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) February 21, 2016
The results of South Carolina are remarkably consistent - Trump ahead at 32 percent, while there are two well-defined tiers below him.
Tier 2 -- Cruz and Rubio, both with 22 percent, separated by only 1,000 votes.
Tier 3 -- Bush, Kasich, and Carson, all with 7 percent. Bush, the guy who dropped out, leads this tier, and Carson, the guy who hasn't ranked in the top three in any state, is dead last. Seeing these results, the question isn't why Jeb dropped but why Carson hasn't.