Iowa Republicans have long titled hard to the Religious Right. With Mike "Huckster" Huckabee and Rick ¡Santorum! Santorum pale imitations of their previous selves, this part of the Iowa GOP electorate was first come, first served for Cruz.
Second, pundits, including this one (I have ennobled myself) long wondered how good of a ground game Trump had for a caucus state, especially a very localized one like Iowa.
With all this said, the amount of Marco Rubio's late surge was, if anything, the surprise.
So, we do, despite the mainstream media, Inside the Beltway and Inside the Mopac punditry of a week ago, have a three-person, not a two-person, race, and will through Super Tuesday.
That said, New Hampshire is not good ground for Cruz.
It's not heavily Religious Right. It allows crossover voting, which will help Trump and Rubio more. And, New Hampshirites aren't New Yorkers, but they, too, probably take exception to Cruz's "New York values" dig.
I wouldn't be surprised if Trump wins.
That said, he has two change two things.
One is to develop ever more of a real political organization.
The other, now that the gravy train of free teevee time is cut off, is sticking a crowbar in his own wallet to pay for that organization, to pay for ad time, etc.
The days and weeks ahead, and his action, or inaction, in those two areas, will tell how serious of a candidate he is, or is not.
It will also tell us if the multiply-bankrupt Trump has as much money as he claims, as he's bloviated about his allegedly vast wealth for decades, including up to the moment of his bankruptcies.
The other question is, if Trump can win, who's second?
Per all that I said above, Rubio has a shot at that. That said, Jeb! has to be looking at New Hampshire as nearly do-or-die. Doug Christie even more so. Rand Paul might get some sort of bump from the libertarian types in New Hampshire; too bad that the GOP then reverses calendars with the Democrats and puts Western-state Nevada, somewhat more libertarian on the GOP side, after Religious Right ground zero South Carolina.
And, oops, scrag THAT, on a quick update. Squirrel Hair has decided to drop out. Unless he really was on his last campaign dime, this doesn't make sense. That is, for prez politics.
Kentucky state politics? Different matter.
In the Commonwealth, Dems primary in May. But the GOP caucuses (done as Kentucky's version of a "lite" version of a semi "LBJ law" here in Texas to help Randster) — in March. I'm venturing that calendar pressures have forced his hand. He faces two low-grade GOP opponents, but Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has already announced on the Democratic side. Remember, Squirrel Hair is a first-term senator, and Kentucky isn't totally red.
I think he probably was in danger of being perceived as a "vanity" presidential candidate, not just nationally, but also within Kentucky. His GOP opponents, as noted, seem low-grade, but, nonetheless, not getting an overwhelming caucus endorsement, just a month from now, could have been embarrassing.
The rest of the field?
Expect Christie to bluster through New Hampshire then drop out. Expect Jeb to hang around until South Carolina, then barring a semi-miracle, drop out.
Some of this will depend on whether Cruz is second, or is third, in New Hampshire, and what percentages everybody gets. If none of the "big three" break 25 percent, and there's more table scraps for
Carly Fiorina may finally dip into her remaining campaign chest to "buy a clue." How soon, I don't know.