POLITICS

How Each Of The GOP Candidates Can Still Win

Even Jeb.

The tides are starting to shift in the race to be the Republican nominee. Slowly but surely, the debates are winnowing the field. With growing intensity, enmity between rival candidates is starting to come to a boil. And the happy free-for-all scene of the early primary season, where every elite endorsement was an open question and every billionaire’s bundle was parked in the bank, is coming to a close. The possibilities aren’t endless anymore. The available resources aren’t infinite anymore. And the race to grab the brass ring is starting to feel quite cutthroat.

The past fortnight has been all about changes in fortune and direction. Marco Rubio, having drafted behind his old mentor long enough, is coursing around on an intercept-and-pass path with Jeb Bush. Ted Cruz, emphasizing his ability to pivot between insider and outsider, is in a comfortable lane. You have Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee falling from the debate main stage to the undercard. You have Lindsey Graham falling from the undercard into oblivion.

 Who has the path to victory now? Well, everyone does! It’s just that some people’s paths are less pitfall-strewn than others. On this week’s First To Last, we’ll breakdown who’s cruising, and who’s losing.

RANK CANDIDATE
1
Donald Trump
Pay the cost to be the boss: Actually spend your own money, actually raise money from other Trump-sized individuals, continue and conclude your complete character evisceration of all the other candidates so that you are the only one left standing.
2
BEN CARSON
Get admitted to West Point? It’s not too late, soldier! Seriously, though, “victory” to you is just selling books and getting paid, and that's going great. Either way, look on the bright side: It’s great that you didn’t stab a close relative.
3
MARCO RUBIO
Stop sweating. You’re from Florida, dude! Jeb calls you the GOP Obama, which is not a compliment. So show that your appeal isn’t just demographic or generational by actually learning something about foreign policy, which you claim is your area of expertise. Decide once and for all where you are on immigration.
4
TED CRUZ
Really, you just need to bide your time, don't you? If Trump and Carson burn out, you stand poised to welcome their disciples. In the meantime, expand efforts to seem like a nice guy; even we agree that we don’t want to have a beer with you. Also do not repeat scary offer to give voters a ride home. That’s too Freddy Krueger.
5
JEB BUSH
We don't know HOW you're going to make it back but your campaign insists you're on the “comeback” right now and that we are all missing a great story. (But we think your path involves sending everyone a personal email.) We’re owned by AOL so, yeah, “You’ve Got Mail!” You’re nearly invisible now, which is good. You’re so far behind you can afford to let the others ahead of you kill each other off.
6
CARLY FIORINA
Your personality pops in debates and you're pulling off the Hewlett-Packard history revision. To keep from fading, though, you need to put forward more of your own innovative ideas. (We're sure HP’s board told you much the same!)
7
JOHN KASICH
Stop talking about women on diets and just stay on that New Hampshire message. Hope for a budget crisis that leads to economic freefall -- you ran the budget committee!
8
CHRIS CHRISTIE
You know the winning formula now! If you manage to appear in 50 more Huffington Post-produced videos with thoughtful things to say, you've got it made.
9
RAND PAUL
Expand definition of victory in 2016 to just getting re-elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky.
10
MIKE HUCKABEE
You’re an original evangelical candidate -- pray for some divine intervention.
11
BOBBY JINDAL
What if there is some kind of “Walking Dead” situation and you were the only non-zombified candidate left? We would DEFINITELY give you even odds in that scenario.
12
RICK SANTORUM
Left your path to victory back in 2012, buddy, but it was a great run.
13
LINDSEY GRAHAM
You're actually running for secretary of defense anyways.
14
GEORGE PATAKI
Run as a Democrat? Run in another country’s election?
15
JIM GILMORE
Yeah, we give up. But you got your Twitter account verified!
Photos: Getty, Associated Press
CONVERSATIONS