Iowa didn’t go Cruz, it went Constitutionalist, and it went Conservative. Now it’s New Hampshire’s turn. The Granite State is notorious for cancelling out Iowa’s choice. That may be a good thing, or not. Conventional wisdom suggests Cruz won’t go two for two. The question is, if that happens, will they go contrary to the candidate, or contrary to the candidate’s ideology? If they, though their votes, suggest a conservative alternative to Cruz, maybe trading in some conservatism for electability then expect a Rubio win or place. If they collectively decide to endorse a moderate, it might suggest that D.C. is working just fine, and want more. Perhaps they will say the answer for America is to hire a strongman (read Trump) to counter Putin and friends.
Almost more important than the votes will be the exit polls. Finding out what motivated the voters to vote for who they did will provide an insight into Republican priorities. Will the priority be electability, economics, foreign affairs? Wednesday morning we’ll know, and we’ll have a better idea of what sort of candidate will win the nomination. Two states does not a nomination make, but historically a Republican must win one state or the other to make it all the way to the convention.
One thing is reasonably certain; if a moderate does not win, place or show, it will likely mean the end for the candidacy for all moderates not named Bush. Only Jeb can withstand a finish outside of the top three. If Cruz wins, well the media will go nuts, but only slightly less so than if Trump wins. Before Iowa, pundits theorized about Trump steamrolling the competition all the way to the nomination. The real steamroller, should he finish first, or even a strong second will be Marco Rubio. In every race to the nomination, a sense of inevitability becomes the strongest weapon for fending off the other contenders. Marco knows this, and the moderate governors currently assailing him definitely know it and want to stop it. New Hampshire then might be their last stand.