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The last New Hampshire poll

That said, the final ARG poll in New Hampshire shows Trump 33, Kasich 17, Rubio 14, Cruz 10, Bush 9, Christie 8, Fiorina 3, Carson 1. The margin of error is five points.

Which means that the only certainty tonight is that Il Duce will win. Almost anything could happen in the really significant area, the centrist lane. If things were to turn out exactly the way the poll predicts, it would be fine for Marco; as long as he finishes ahead of Bush and Christie he remains the favorite to emerge as the candidate of the sane wing of the party. Finishing ahead of Cruz would be a bonus.

But I expect some departures from the race tonight, or tomorrow. Barring a huge surprise, there doesn't seem to be much point of either Fiorina or Carson going on, and unless they manage a fairly solid showing Bush and Christie will have to start thinking of folding their tents. Bush is the stronger of the two long term; Christie, like Kasich, will probably have his best showing in New Hampshire, and things will go downhill from there.

Bush could probably survive the scenario the poll portrays, finishing a relatively solid fifth only a point behind Cruz. But he'd be on life support. I'm not sure Christie will still be in the race tomorrow.

As we head for South Carolina and ultimately Super Tuesday on March 1, Trump will obviously bear watching. So, too, will the respective placings of Cruz and Rubio- and, of course, how quickly Bush, Christie, and to a lesser extent Kasich get out of the race. One thing is certain: the so-called "establishment" wing of the party has to settle on its candidate before Trump builds up so much momentum that he can't be stopped.

I still don't believe that the rank-and-file of the Republican party nationally are such idiots that they would pick Il Duce as their nominee. If they do, I'm not sure the GOP will be worth salvaging. Certainly its brand will be damaged for the foreseeable future, and belonging to it would thereafter be an embarrassment for anybody with both intelligence and self-respect.

And things are far from hopeless. All things being equal, if only one "establishment lane" candidate was in the race in New Hampshire and he got all the votes of the other "establishment candidates," he'd beat Trump by 11 points.

That can happen down the road- but not until the centrist vote stops being split five ways.

HT: Real Clear Politics


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