Ted Cruz had a bad election in South Carolina and he’s facing increasing trouble, no doubt about it. But The Hill has written him off like he’s John Kasich.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 22, 2016
Cruz has the most cash, the best campaign organization, the best data analytics, and is second in delegate count. But somehow he’s finished. Kaput.
Taking down the front-runner is a tall order for Rubio. In the modern era, every GOP candidate who, like Trump, has won the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries has eventually also won the party’s presidential nomination. And even though Bush’s exit will bolster Rubio’s supply of supporters and donors, he must still contend with Kasich, the Ohio governor who is intent on staying in the race despite his distant fifth-place showing in South Carolina.
They cited exit polls and pigeonholed Cruz into the Huckbee/Santorum mold from 2008.
But exit poll data suggest he is falling into the same trap past winners of the Iowa caucuses like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum: unable to expand his coalition beyond a too-small band of conservative and religious Republicans. Exit polls from South Carolina showed him winning only 13 percent of GOP voters who didn’t identify as born-again Christians. He won 35 percent of very conservative Republicans, but only 17 percent of somewhat conservative voters and 7 percent of moderates — well behind both Trump and Rubio.
Certainly, these are issues for the Cruz campaign, and message problems (here, here and here) could hamper Cruz’s efforts to right his ship. But the establishment is in a big hurry to wave the white flag over the Cruz camp and get him out so they can take up Rubio full-time.
With Bush gone, they’ll redouble their efforts to knock Cruz out, even if it means crowning Trump the winner.