Donald Trump: Those who believed/hoped that Donald Trump would self-implode or that another candidate would surpass him in gathering delegates for the Republican National Convention should snap out of it. Trump is a legitimate, winning candidate, and it will take more that wishful thinking to defeat him. The remaining Republican candidates have to understand Trump’s appeal and address it’s roots as strongly as Trump has. Republican and most Independent voters are fed up with the Republican establishments failure to stand up to President Obama and his destructive policies. Most have done this to a lesser extent, but not with the force and believability Trump has. Cruz has made this the backbone of his campaign, but not as convincingly as Trump. Until his poor performance in the New Hampshire debate, Rubio had been doing this almost as well as Cruz, but now has to dig himself out of the the hole he dug for himself.
John Kasich did well in New Hampshire because of the time and attention he paid to New Hampshire voters and his good ground game. Like Bush, however, Kasich is unlikely to turn his second place showing in New Hampshire into a trend. If the Trump / Sanders victories demonstrate anything they demonstrate that this is not the year for establishment candidates, and Kasich doesn’t have the organization beyond New Hampshire to pull off a repeat.
Ted Cruz has the benefit of being a non-establishment candidate and a strong conservative, and he is likely to remain in the top three as the primaries progress. Nevertheless, he has to fight to get out of Trumps shadow, and after New Hampshire, that has become more difficult.
Jeb Bush turned in his best debate and vote-getting performance in New Hampshire, but he still has an up-hill climb he may not have the strength for. He was the principle beneficiary of Rubio’s stumble and likely would have finished behind Rubio had that not occurred. Still Bush, more than any other Republican candidate, represents the establishment now so reviled by Republican voters. To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, Republicans want their party to be a true opposition party and it has ceased being that.
Marco Rubio’s still hangs on by his fingernails and if he does well in South Carolina, he could make a comeback. Even if he does, however, Trump would have to stumble big time for the race for the nomination to become a two-man race between Rubio and Cruz
Chris Christies’ suicide attack on Marco Rubio was effective, but it ruined his chances of finishing in the top four or five. Before the New Hampshire Republican debate Christie made the strategic decision to go after Rubio hard as a way of advancing his own candidacy. That strategy failed partially because of the meanness in which he executed his attack on Rubio and partially because of his incessant bragging about it during interviews after the debate. His behavior came across as un-presidential and downright nasty. As a result, he is out of the race.
Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson: Both are good people, but they did not do well in New Hampshire for different reasons. Carly, in my view, didn’t catch on because Republican voters didn’t buy into her electability in a general election against Hillary Clinton. Memories of devastating personal attacks on conservative women have left cars on Republican voters. Carson was too weak on foreign affairs and too meek as a candidate. This year Republican’s want a fighter. Carly dropped out today and how much longer Carson will stay in the race, I don’t know, but neither stood any chance of becoming the party’s nominee.
Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton: The conventional wisdom is that from here on out it’s Hillary’s show. She will do better in states where blacks and other minorities make up significant portion of Democratic primary voters. True; however, Clinton is a seriously damaged candidate, and even if she wins the nomination as most pundits on both sides predict, odds of her winning a general election against Trump or any of the other top republican candidate are not good. Hillary has proven a poor, un-energetic campaigner, mired in the past and hobbled by scandals past and present. Today’s young Democratic voters lack the forgiving attitudes their counterparts had 20-years ago; and Bill Clinton is not the adroit politician campaigning on behalf of his wife he was as a younger man. Hillary’s attacks on the the women in her husbands “bimbo eruptions” has her now viewed no so much a victim as an enabler. Comparisons of Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby make the point. Most damaging is Hillary’s email scandal which will likely come to a head before the November election. The FBI already has begun to drop breadcrumbs suggesting the referral of a criminal case to the Department of Justice. The attorney general and President Obama likely will do everything they can to stonewall, but the accusations of cover-up will become deafening and damaging.
Bottom Line: Right now a Trump-Clinton match up in the November election appears most likely. Of course, anything can happen between now and then. The vicious, dirty Democratic campaign, like those we’ve witnessed in the past is about to begin, first on Bernie Sanders then on Donald Trump. Presidential politics is about to become very dirty–again. Hillary’s next book may be titled “Guess What Happened to Me on the Way to the Coronation?”