Another interesting night. We saw Kasich manage to finish second at 16%. Over the year, a number of moderate candidates have used New Hampshire as a next-to-last hope to jump-start their campaign, and it may have paid off for Kasich.
Chris Christie seems to have played the killer rabbit (if I can morph the track term for the guy designated to set a fast pace in a mile run), as he served as the bad-cop in Saturday's debate and beyond, coming in sixth at 8%. He seems set to pack it in after the results and hope for a slot as AG or Homeland Security boss in a GOP administration. Carly might be in position to make a similar call (except with a Commerce slot waiting) with her 4% take.
Cruz did a decent third at 12%, not building much on where he was a week ago, but NH isn't friendly territory for theocons. He had little expectations game going and won't be asked (too hard, at least) why he didn't do better.
Jeb is in an interesting spot at 11% in fourth. That's not a ringing endorsement, yet not bad enough to pack it in quite yet. He still has some hope of waiting for everyone else on the establishment track to fall away and suck up that vote, but it's playing to an inside straight.
Rubio got a standing eight-count, coming in fifth a fraction of a percent behind Bush. He had been poling better than the 11% he got, signs that the trained-parrot meme from last Saturday's debate stuck, so he has some damage control to do between now and Saturday's SC debate.
It shouldn't be fatal. He plays the Shiny Pony role for now, but needs to adjust a little.
There could well be two "establishment tracks" one for a conventional conservative that is somewhere between 180-proof Tea Party and the country-club set and another for the country-clubbers. Jeb and Kasich are fighting for the latter (the son-of-blue-collar-folks Kasich is a poor fit for the country club, poetic license invoked) and Rubio represents the former. Rubio will likely absorb the hard-core establishment types in due time, but they live to fight another day.
Bush needs to do well closer to home turf in SC and FL, while Kasich seems to be in uncharted terrirory. He seems to be an ill fit for the conservative and rather nativist SC, but not everyone has a Reelect Strom sticker in their garage. We shall see,