With 98 percent reporting in South Carolina, Trump is winning per his pre-election polling. He neither over nor underperformed. I put his magic number at 210,000 with a 650,000 voter turnout. Turnout is well over 730,000 and Trump is projected to hit 240,000, which is going to be difficult to beat but beatable.
Erick wrote that it’s Rubio’s race to lose, but that ignores delegate math.
Either the race goes to Trump by March 15, or one of Rubio or Cruz stands to face him. Cruz has the most money in the bank, the best data analytics, and the most well-developed ground operation. There’s no way Cruz will back off short of a total meltdown.
Cruz has a good chance at winning several states on the March 1 “Super Tuesday.” He really has to win Georgia and Texas to have a chance, and I believe he has a better chance in those states (with large delegate counts) than Rubio.
With Bush out of the race, the question becomes who will get Bush’s support, and likely Carson’s support. Kasich will probably stay in out of sheer spite.
Blame Jeb Bush for ruining the race. If he had endorsed either Cruz or Rubio a few days ago, we might not be faced with this fustercluck right now.
Rubio is doing well right now (thanks to a well-timed endorsement by Nikki Haley), but Cruz has not spoken his last word on the race. There are many delegates left. Stopping Trump may be a technical matter of getting to Cleveland (the GOP Convention) with enough delegates to stop Trump from winning outright, then taking the nomination on the subsequent rounds. Cruz has a better delegate operation than Rubio–he just plays that chess game better.
In order for Rubio to win that way, he either has to blunt-force stop Trump (a very difficult task given turnouts and trends) or finesse it. That will require Cruz’s organization to swing behind him. I believe, given a hopeless situation, Cruz will make the right decision.
Cruz may be hurt by South Carolina, but Rubio’s gain doesn’t spell his doom.