So, I know polling is flawed. The polls just were off in Kentucky by ~10 points. However, there is a really interesting poll from Quinnipiac out on the Republican nomination. It shows 4 candidates above 10 points, and everyone else below 5. The only candidates above 10 are Carson, Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. Everyone else is at 4 or below. Everyone.
More interestingly the average of the last four polls (the standard Fox will use) shows 8 candidates at or above 2.5. If assume that there will be another poll replacing the oldest and that the most recent three are a better guess then the number of candidates on the next stage drops to 7. I think it is reasonable to assume Kasich is on a downward trajectory and that there would actually be only 6 at the next debate. Of those 6 only 4 remain viable in the polling, the other two would have to deliver knock out punches at the debate to move. The primary electorate is not in the mood for a negotiator who gets things done and can fix Washington. The primary electorate is in the mood for someone who will roll back the progressive agenda, and fight for conservative principles. This kind of blocks Bush or Fiorina from making big gains. Fiorina made a jump after he appeal on abortion, but since then it has become clear that she is at heart a negotiator. That is, she cannot be trusted to follow through on her appeal. Bush recently made a jab about trying to help the Senate function better and has retooled his campaign into “fixing” DC. Since DC cannot be fixed (other than how pets are fixed) I don’t think Bush can possibly improve his standing in the electorate.
I think that post FBN debate there will be four candidates, and a monkey wrench. Jeb Bush (and his PACs) will be throwing tens of millions of dollars into sinking Rubio. Whether it works or not I don’t know. I hope it does, because even if it does work it won’t accomplish its secondary goal of boosting Bush. That is, Bush very well may be able to take Rubio out, but Bush would not regain his spot – instead the field would narrow to three. A stage with Cruz, Carson, and Trump sure would be something to see.