By Sahil Nandwani
It’s the beginning of election season; the first presidential nominating contests have completed for both major parties: the Iowa Caucus on February 2nd, and the New Hampshire Primary on February 9th. The winners of the events weren’t all that surprising - Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the obligatory evangelical candidate, took Iowa by storm, while frontrunner Donald Trump squashed his competition in the Granite State. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eked out a narrow victory in the Hawkeye State, but Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dominated New Hampshire.
The flood of media coverage of these two events has gone to the nominal winners of the events, but who gained and lost the most in these last few weeks?
The clear winner: Governor Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). A scion of the only Republican political dynasty, which has among its ranks two presidents and a senator, Bush entered the race as the candidate-to-beat but quickly floundered in the wake of Donald Trump, who senselessly pummeled him to the point where he couldn’t even stand up to his former protege, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Everyone was writing his obituary in the last six months and called for him to drop out of the race many times, especially after his dismal sixth-place finish in Iowa, but his fourth-place finish ahead of Rubio in New Hampshire has revitalized his campaign. His adrenaline shot came just in time to hit the trail in South Carolina, the stage of the next primary and a state nicknamed “Bush Country."
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) clearly lost the most ground. He’s been seen as the most electable GOP candidate and has experienced nothing-but-fawning media coverage. And after a surprise third-place finish in Iowa, he was expected to effectively end the establishment mini-race and force Bush, Governor John Kasich (R-OH), and Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) to drop out by coming in second in New Hampshire. But after a toxic debate performance two days before the primary and constant savaging by Bush and Christie, he finished behind his mentor in fifth-place. His “3-2-1” strategy - third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire, and first in South Carolina - isn’t working out for him, and his wound in the first-in-the-nation primary may be fatal.
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