Let’s dispel with this fiction that it’s too late for another Republican besides Donald Trump or Ted Cruz to be the nominee, due to the crowding of the so called “establishment” lane, the most overused word in the political world. That other candidate will be Marco Rubio.
Two South Carolina projections, one an internal poll, and another a projection by Nate Silver, would have the effect of winnowing the field to a 3-man race, between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz:
DT 33, MR 23, TC 19, JB 12, BC 6, JK5
The internal Poll:
DT: 32, TC 26, MR 20, JB 10, BC 7, JK 2
Either one of these projections would force Jeb! and Kasich out of the race, and I believe these forecasts will come to fruition because Rubio has the backing of Senator Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy, two of the most popular conservative Republicans in the state.
After Nevada, which all of the top-3 candidates should run strong in (I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump finished third there, his base of support is an arc that travels through the deep south, up through appalachia, and through the northeast/yankeedom), it will be on to Super Tuesday on March 1st:
Look for this breakdown:
Alabama (Trump or Cruz)
Alaska Caucus (Cruz or Rubio)
Arkansas (Cruz or Trump)
Georgia (Probably Cruz but all 3 Competitive)
Oklahoma (Cruz or Rubio, despite current polls Rubio has Inhoffe’s endorsement and Cruz has regional/evangelical stregnth)