In the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, the retail campaigning at town halls and state fairs means a presidential hopeful can run a campaign fueled by little more than, well, hope. With an early victory, a long-shot candidate (think Jimmy Carter in Iowa, 1976, and John McCain in New Hampshire, 2000) can catch fire, at least for a while. But after those two opening contests, the campaign moves to bigger states and a faster pace that can mercilessly winnow the field.
Win, place or get out of the way: Here's a look at what each candidate needed to do in Tuesday's primary.
Trump: Prove Iowa was an aberration
Donald Trump has something to prove: That he can prevail not only in the polls but also at the polls — that is, that his strong standing in surveys can be matched by voters actually turning out for him on Election Day. That didn't happen in Iowa, where the real-estate mogul led in the dozen statewide surveys leading up to the caucuses but ended up second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump is a more natural fit with the Granite State — evangelical Christians aren't the political force here that they are in the heartland — and he's been leading by overwhelming margins. In the polls, anyway. Advisers to a rival campaign (that would be Ohio Gov. John Kasich) even suggest a surging challenger (that just could be, well, you know) might be able to edge past Trump. That outcome would be a stunning surprise and a political game-changer.
Rubio: Finish second
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is following what strategists dub a 3-2-1 strategy: Finish third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire and first in South Carolina. He not only finished third in Iowa but succeeded in having that portrayed as an impressive accomplishment, to the annoyance of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who came in ahead of him. A second-place finish in New Hampshire would bolster Rubio's claim to be the GOP establishment's strongest alternative to Trump. He has drawn big and enthusiastic crowds to town halls, but he seemed rattled by attacks from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the final debate Saturday. That was a good night for the trio of governors who also are jockeying for support from the Republican mainstream. The other two, John Kasich and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, had their best debates to date, and not a moment too soon.
Cruz: Just hang on
No candidate has less at stake in New Hampshire than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. He won the Iowa caucuses and has built formidable organizations in South Carolina and Super Tuesday states, especially across the South. His religious-tinged message and fierce conservatism is likely to resonate better there than in the Granite State, where votes from independents can moderate the electorate in the GOP primary. A second-place finish could bruise Marco Rubio and help Cruz cast the nomination battle as a two-man race between him and Trump, but the Texas senator is poised to campaign into future states no matter what happens here. And a muddled finish by his more mainstream rivals — Rubio and the trio of current and former governors — could be helpful if it encourages all of them to stay in the race, splintering that vote in the next set of contests.Read what the Full story and what the other candidated needed to do HERE.
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