Trump’s all-out attack on Ted Cruz have drawn blood, and the counterattack has left a mark. But who is emerging from the dust? John Kasich.
The latest RCP average shows Kasich two points ahead of Cruz in New Hampshire, who is running fourth. The latest poll (American Research Group) shows Trump losing 1 or 2 points, and Cruz dropping 3 to 5 points, while Kasich has surged with a 6 to 8 point gain. Rubio has fallen slightly, and Christie still doesn’t have much to show for all the days spent in the frigid N.H. air.
New Hampshire politics are fickle and decidedly anti-everything Cruz is. It’s not that they don’t like his politics, they just don’t like him.
As I wrote two weeks ago:
First, he’s a Texan, and to people within shouting distance of Canada, where French is the second language instead of Spanish, nothing good ever comes out of Texas. The only way George W. Bush ever won the state is by having no opposition. His father won by dint of the fact that he lived in Maine. The last time a Texan won New Hampshire was when Lyndon Johnson won in 1968—as a write-in because he wasn’t even running!
Second, Cruz is an evangelical Christian. There are Christians up there; I know many of them personally. But if garlic worn around the neck could repel evangelicals like it’s supposed to repel vampires, the old yankees would wear 20 heads in a necklace when they get near Cruz. It’s something to do with the “frozen chosen” moniker. Northerners, and curmudgeonly old crusts in N.H. especially, prefer their religion confined to Sunday—and the increasing presence of free-thinking libertarians plus tree-hugging liberals in the state only further marginalizes the role of the religious right.
Any reason Granite State voters have to not vote for Cruz is one they’ll gladly take. But New Hampshirites don’t particularly like “New York values” either–and they do know what that means–not a bagel and pastrami on rye.
So the Ohio governor becomes the stand-in for protest: A man who quotes the Bible like he reads it and touts Ohio as if its some miracle of personal liberty and union busting. Rubio simply must have a good showing to have a chance in South Carolina, and Christie would need a miracle to stay in the race unless he finishes second.
Cruz has undoubtedly written off winning N.H. long ago, but he can’t surrender and beating Rubio is important–especially if Trump is losing momentum.
One thing is certain: Kasich won’t benefit from a second-place finish. The best thing that could happen is for Bush to be driven from the race to make room for the real battle, which is clearly taking shape between Trump and Cruz.