Crowded, brutal New Hampshire race could hurt Rubio and the GOP mainstream

Crowded, brutal New Hampshire race could hurt Rubio and the GOP mainstream

Christie surge is thwarting the favourite’s momentum 

At the end of a dramatic week in which Donald Trump’s ‘ban all Muslims from the USA’ created a worldwide storm and threatens to plunge his party into crisis , the race for the Republican Nomination is shaking up.

Today’s big news is great news for followers of this blog’s betting advice. Ted Cruz, recommended twice and backed heavily at an average of around 3.5% for the nomination, is now 10% clear in the latest poll for the opening Iowa Caucus. His Betfair rating is up to 22% – keep an eye out for updated betting advice soon.

Marco Rubio remains the clear favourite, rated around 37%, but doubts are beginning to creep in. Check out this piece from Jamelle Bouie at slate.com, pondering that he could be a paper tiger. That his polling and organisation lag behind his rivals. It is early days of course, but I have some sympathy with these arguments.

Whilst I very much respect Rubio’s chance, the thing that has deterred me so far from adding him to the book is the crowded race in New Hampshire. Historically, this is where the mainstream pick, with nationwide appeal emerges. I don’t expect Cruz to win there.

So far all the polls have put Trump well out in front. As with other surveys, we’ll see if that actually materialises but until an obvious, close rival emerges there – as Cruz has in Iowa – the prospect of him winning NH must be taken seriously.

And the problem is that so many others chasing that establishment pick mantle have staked their campaign on it.

John Kasich and Chris Christie have put a tremendous effort in the Granite State, and are being rewarded by poll numbers well in advance of their national ratings. Although she appears to be slipping out, Carly Fiorina briefly polled in second place.

With Rubio and Jeb Bush, that adds up to five candidates chasing one spot. On the latest RCP average, they total 41% of votes, with Rubio only just leading amongst them on 12%. It seems highly unlikely any of them will quit before the primary.

Momentum there appears to be with Christie, who was endorsed by the Manchester Union Leader newspaper recently and soared into second spot in the latest poll.

Now I have doubts about Christie’s nationwide appeal, but the New Jersey Governor could certainly win New Hampshire. And no surprises for guessing his latest move – attack his main rival, Rubio – describing his defence of missing key Senate votes as ‘baloney’.

Plausibly, we could see Cruz win Iowa, then either Trump or Christie win NH before a series of Southern states – that should favour Cruz. Where would that leave Rubio? (Let alone Bush, who remains inexplicably over-rated at 11% for the nomination, despite making no headway whatsoever).

I’ve just written a big piece for Politico, explaining my long-range view and strategy for this Presidential race. Why I feel an outsider can win, and why they represent the best early betting value.

Time will tell and perhaps in due course, a mainstream candidate will emerge. Right now though, they are carving each other up and everything is favouring the outsiders, whether it be Trump or my main pick Cruz.

 


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