Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ted Cruz to gain through New Hampshire Debate on February 6

Marco Rubio was always going to be the target of the establishment candidates at the New Hampshire Republican Debate on February 6. Chris Christie, as expected, launched a severe onslaught which rattled Rubio, shaking him up seriously for the first time since the Republican race for Presidency began. While these establishment candidates battle it out, Texas Senator Ted Cruz would be sitting back and enjoying.

Billionaire Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz are the two leading anti-establishment candidates of the Republican Party during the primaries while Rubio, Jeb Bush, Christie and John Kasich are the establishment candidates. Following the performance in Iowa, Rubio jumped up as the hot favorite of the establishment. This alarmed the other establishment candidates, who decided to hit out against the youthful Florida Senator. The intentions of Chris Christie were well known as he had called Rubio the “boy in the bubble” merely days before.

According to a CNN/WMUR Poll released on Friday, Donald Trump was still well ahead of the Republican pack with 29 percent support in New Hampshire. The biggest change following the Iowa caucus was the increasing support for Marco Rubio in particular and for the GOP establishment candidates in general. Cruz jumped from an 11 percent support prior to Iowa to 18 percent. Thereby, he went clear of Ted Cruz, who remained on 13 percent. Meanwhile, other establishment candidates such as John Kasich and Jeb Bush narrowed the gap with Cruz.

This development encouraged the establishment candidates who now aim to attract some Rubio supporters towards them. For Kasich, Bush and especially Christie, New Hampshire could be the last battle ground, and they are fully aware of it. While Kasich adopted a different tactic, Christie and Bush were out there to grab Rubio from the neck.

Rubio’s less convincing performance at the debate may cost him a few points in popularity. If so, it will be the establishment candidates who will be vying to pick up the small bits and pieces. One should remember that these pieces will be picked up by several candidates. While this can take them a few inches forward, it would not take them to somewhere secure enough.

Meanwhile, if Cruz is fortunate enough, the establishment candidates could eat into Rubio’s popularity so that he could assert himself in the second place during the primary. Therefore, if there is anyone with a chance of picking up something from the debate on Saturday, it will be Cruz.

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