The Arena: Bush league

Raise your hand if you had Donald Trump and John Kasich lasting longer than Jeb Bush in this campaign. Nobody? Didn’t think so. Jeb Bush was by no means a shoo-in to win his nomination, but the manner in which he lost was shocking. Political science departments across the country will start including his failed run for the presidency as part of their curricula.

Bush capped off an extremely disappointing campaign with a bland performance in South Carolina. Despite the best efforts of his brother George, as well as South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, Bush pulled in less than 8 percent of the votes and soon dropped out. Donald Trump built off of his impressive performance in New Hampshire with a 32.5 percentage win in South Carolina and then another win in Nevada. Marco Rubio, armed with the endorsement of South Carolina Governor (future Vice President?) Nikki Haley, took 2nd and Ted Cruz 3rd.

This is more proof of something I’ve said all along: the establishment of the Republican Party will get Rubio through these primaries. I have a tough time believing Rubio beats Cruz for 2nd (just under 1,000 votes separated the two) without Haley’s endorsement.

Rubio’s preempted 3-2-1 strategy of 3rd in Iowa, 2nd in New Hampshire and 1st in South Carolina, unexpectedly devolved into a 3-5-2 strategy. Regardless, he is on good footing ahead of Super Tuesday next week when 10 states will vote. Coming endorsements from previous general election nominees Bob Dole and (potentially) Mitt Romney will only help.

Now imagine if Rubio had done better in New Hampshire, instead of 5th. John Kasich, who finished 2nd, surely would not have been emboldened to go on through Super Tuesday. Those Kasich votes would probably have trickled through to Rubio. Thankfully for the Rubio campaign, the electorate quickly moved past the Senator’s awful debate performance. The sooner the GOP crystallizes around Rubio, the sooner it can take down Trump, who just took 45.9 percent of the vote in Nevada.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is moving closer to the nomination with a solid victory over Bernie Sanders in Nevada, and what will probably be a blowout in South Carolina this weekend. While the Sanders campaign is not particularly challenging in the latter, they might just be a bit disappointed about their performance in the former.

Clinton looks just about set. Across the aisle, Marco Rubio is by no means the perfect nominee. His oratory skills are shoddy at best, and his level of political experience is closer to that of an orange than that of Clinton. But he is the best shot the Republicans have of taking back the White House. Unfortunately for the GOP, according to exit polls, a statistically even amount of South Carolinian Republicans noted “tells it like it is” as the most important quality in a candidate as noted, “can win in November.” Rubio won almost half of the latter vote, compared to just about 24 percent statewide. I’ll leave it to the reader to determine who won 78 percent of the “tells it like it is” vote.