Without even waiting until all the precincts in South Carolina reported in, Jeb Bush has suspended his campaign.
As it stands now, with 67% reporting in, Jeb is in a distant fourth place with 8% of the vote — nearly sixty thousand votes behind third place Ted Cruz. Cruz and Rubio have been shifting positions all evening. But Jeb has been down so far behind them, to really have no consequence in this race.
CNN is reporting that when Jeb announced he was suspending his campaign, the crowd at Trump’s rally cheered. No idea why. I highly doubt that any Bush supporters will flock to Trump. Though some may shift to Kasich and maybe even a few to Cruz, I have no doubt that Marco Rubio will be the biggest beneficiary of Jeb’s exit from the race. My only guess why the Trump people are happy is because they think they’ve managed to kill off another candidate.
Problem is, with each candidate who drops out of the race, Trump’s lead will diminish. Though he won decisively here in South Carolina, 67% of voters were not on board the Trump Train. That is a hefty portion of the electorate.
Keep in mind that like New Hampshire, South Carolina is an open state primary.
As I wrote back in December when writing about Lindsey Graham’s dreary polling in Iowa and New Hampshire:
I’ve theorized before that the reason Goober remains in a race where he is polling in the basement is because he’s holding out hope that he can pull of a good showing in South Carolina. I suspect Lindsey hopes to benefit from South Carolina’s open primary which allows Democrats to vote in the Republican primary and vice versa (a trend that has kept Graham from losing his Senate seat over the years). In fact, if any candidate benefits from South Carolina Democrats voting in the GOP primary, I think it will be Donald Trump, not Lindsey Graham. I’m sure there are quite a few Democrats in the state who detest Hillary and aren’t Leftist enough to vote for Socialist Bernie Sanders. And these Democrats would happily choose to skip the Democrat Primary and vote instead for Donald Trump. In fact, if Trump wins South Carolina, I think it will be largely due to its the open primary system.
Trump has yet to win a state with a closed primary. In states with only registered Republicans voting, things may be radically different. Despite Jeb’s low numbers, do not underestimate how the shift in support from Bush to Rubio will change the landscape. Rubio is far more popular than Bush ever was. If Jeb’s donors and supporters move to Rubio, that could cause a seismic shift in this race — when we get to closed primary states especially.
Where the Establishment and the big donors were incapable of pushing Jeb on the Republican voters, I think they will have better results backing Rubio. And if that’s the case, I think Rubio may begin to be a serious threat to Trump — again, especially in closed primary states.
What I find astonishing is Ben Carson refuses to budge from this race. He is currently dead last with 7% of the vote. But he insists on continuing.
I have to commend Jeb for knowing when to pull the rip cord. As much as I thought he never should have entered this race to begin with, at least he has the sense to get out quickly and not linger for a few days before deciding.
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