And then there were five…

Indeed, “the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have spoken.” As Jeb Bush uttered those words, the end of his Presidential campaign was just moments away.

If you had asked this time last year who the Republican nominee would be, many would have predicted Jeb Bush. But his campaign never really caught fire, starting from his announcement being blown off the front pages by the entry of Donald Trump the very next day to wooden debate performances to simply sharing the family name. After not exceeding his 11% share of the vote in New Hampshire in South Carolina despite a little help from Sen. Lindsey Graham, it looks like Jeb! saw the writing on the wall.

The question, of course, is where his future voters will go. Perhaps the closest remaining campaign is that of John Kasich, but even if you take all of Jeb’s votes and give them to Kasich he still doesn’t make it into the top three nationally. However, if they go to Marco Rubio he passes Ted Cruz for second place behind Donald Trump, and remember: Trump has won two states but with vote totals in the low-to-mid 30s. If Trump’s negatives are as high as polled, he may not exceed 40% in any state.

Yet for those who believe the time for consolidation is now, Ben Carson is going to soldier on. Communications director Joe Ross pointed out that “Carson received as many delegates in South Carolina as all other candidates but the winner.” Problem was: that number was zero. Carson trails the remaining field with just three delegates he won in Iowa (Bush actually had four that he earned in Iowa and New Hampshire.)

After Nevada votes on Tuesday to assign 30 delegates – a race Trump is expected to win, but only on a proportional scale – a staggering 661 delegates will be up for grabs on Super Tuesday. While there are some caveats, the delegates will be awarded proportionately so Trump’s early lead could vanish if he loses in some states (or he could place himself in a position of being a couple hundred ahead with about 1/3 of the delegates awarded.)

So allow me once again to update my tier map:

  • Bottom tier: George Pataki (Marco Rubio), Donald Trump
  • Fourth tier: Chris Christie, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina
  • Third tier: Rick Santorum (Rubio), Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson
  • Second tier: Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham (Jeb Bush)
  • Top tier: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal (Rubio)

Whadda you know? One from each now. That’s a sad state of affairs.

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