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Nate Jackson / October 29, 2015

Who Drops Out Next?

We’re willing to bet somebody exits the race before the next debate.

There were obvious winners in Wednesday night’s debate, and there were also clear losers. So which candidate(s) will drop out next? Several are struggling to gain traction and may not have a path forward. For starters, the entire slate of “undercard” debate participants have little rationale to continue. Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum and George Pataki aren’t going to launch out of the bottom tier by remaining stuck in the Happy Hour debates. But there are also some on the primetime stage who should probably pack it in. Mike Huckabee is a swell guy you’d love to chat with over barbecue at the church potluck, but he spends far too much debate time on folksy metaphors like that one and just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Rand Paul seems to have missed his moment. In 2012, the GOP was perhaps ready for a commander in chief as cautious as Paul on foreign policy, but not in 2015 as the Obama/Clinton model of appeasement diplomacy and “smart power” has the world on fire (and not from global warming). Paul is a major asset in the Senate, too, and he can serve the nation well by staying put. John Kasich is stagnant, and his angry-man shtick isn’t going to help. Other than the fact (which he repeatedly made clear Wednesday night) that he’s from Ohio, there’s not much keeping a moralizing moderate like him afloat.

The big one, however, is Jeb Bush. The establishment favorite has never managed to convince a growing number of voters that a third Bush White House, or a second Clinton vs. Bush race, is in the nation’s best interest. Besides, “I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them,” he complained recently. “That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.” And after his spectacular failure of an attack on Marco Rubio at the debate, there’s a growing sense that maybe Bush ought to find some of those other “really cool things” to do.

The first debate’s casualty was Rick Perry; Scott Walker exited after the second. We’re willing to bet one or more of the aforementioned candidates won’t be on stage for the next one.

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