New SC poll foreshadows the end of the road for Jeb
The new Public Policy Poll released today- the first since Saturday night's debate- shows the following:
Kasich could probably survive such a relatively strong fourth place finish. But it's hard to see how the donors could keep the cash flowing if Jeb ties for the cellar with a guy who has done as poorly so far as Ben Carson.
Ultimately that would leave Rubio and Kasich to battle it out over the next few primaries for the right to be the last centrist or "establishment lane" candidate standing. If a candidate can merge the percentage of votes center right candidates have gotten in both conservative Iowa and moderate New Hampshire, he could theoretically challenge Trump for supremacy. But it had better happen fast.
As far as the voters of South Carolina are concerned, the winner of Saturday night's debate seems to have been Rubio, who moved from third place into a tie for second after a debate marred by candidates repeatedly calling each other liars, Ted Cruz apparently has been doing what both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio charged him with doing Saturday night: sponsoring robocalls containing false information about his opponents' record and positions. Several South Carolina television stations have pulled an ad sponsored by Cruz's PAC falsely claiming that Rubio supports "sanctuary cities" on the advice of legal counsel.
Rubio actually promises to cut off all Federal money to any municipality declaring itself a "sanctuary city."
The battle between Rubio and Cruz is the thing to watch in this primary. Trump shows no sign of increasing the approximately one-third of the vote he's getting in both the primaries so far and the national polls. But the same pattern seems to be holding in South Carolina as in Iowa and New Hampshire: combine the votes of the "establishment lane" candidates- Rubio, Kasich and Bush- and you get exactly Trump's 35%.
Everything depends on a single "establishment lane" candidate- and it appears at this point almost certain to be Rubio- rallying the supporter of the others behind him as quickly as possible. If that happens, the battle for the nomination- and the soul of the Republican party- could be an epic one.
Graphic by Donkey Hotey