The results of the Republican Primary in South Carolina are in. As expected, Donald Trump won easily, beating the second place finisher by 10 points.
The big surprise is Marco Rubio's second place finish. Recent polls showed him finishing a close third behind Ted Cruz. It looks like voters dumped Bush and Kasich at the last minute and moved to Rubio. Part of this move may be attributed to a late in the game Rubio endorsement by SC Gov. Nikki Haley Establishment voters who dislike Cruz and fear Trump are beginning to realize they must stop dividing their votes and back a single establishment candidate. That candidate is now Marco Rubio.
Jeb Bush has ended his bid for the Presidency. He seems to have realized, after not taking even a third place victory anywhere, that his campaign is not a winning one. He must bow out to allow some candidate to challenge Trump and Cruz.
John Kasich never expected to do well in South Carolina. He is hoping to win a few States on Super Tuesday, then show more success in the mid-west and northeast primaries. But an anemic fifth place finish in SC raises the question whether people will continue to give him serious consideration or whether establishment focuses on Rubio and forgets about Kasich. Hey, he might at least make a good pick for Vice President.
Ben Carson finished sixth. I continue to ask why he is still running.
Trump is still expected to win Nevada later this week. This gives him big momentum going into Super Tuesday. That said, if the establishment really does coalesce around Rubio, we could see improvement. If Bush and Kasich had not run in South Carolina and those voters had mostly backed Rubio, he might have defeated Trump by five points. The question is whether Rubio really can collect virtually all of those establishment votes if the other candidates leave.
After March 15, the Republican Primary States become winner take all. If Rubio can collect all the establishment votes, he may win states. If the establishment remains divided, Trump's lead could expand quickly and allow him to collect a majority of delegates.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton edged out Bernie Sanders in the Nevada Caucus, as expected. Assuming she also beats Sanders in South Carolina next week, she goes into Super Tuesday with good momentum, better organization and more money. We may see Sanders fade quickly at that point.