The Rubio theory was based on a repeat of what happened in Iowa, which is a large number of late-deciding voters going his way. Unfortunately for him, most of those late-deciders seemed to be watching the debate on Saturday where Rubio sort of exploded. He had help from Christie, who also descended into the miasma and now says he'll decide today whether to keep going. Bye-bye! I predicted you'd be gone by South Carolina and I stand by that. Take Carly with you; the two of you deserve each other. (ETA 14h25 the NYTimes reports that Christie is 'suspending' his campaign. ETA2: an hour later there goes Fiorina.)
Bush and Cruz appeared virtually tied, which I think bodes very well for Bush, and very badly for Cruz. Both lost to Kasich but unless the entire Republican Party suddenly takes the ALS challenge and has an enormous vat of icy-cold Sanity dumped on their heads he's a flash in the pan. I admire the man and I'd even vote for him - maybe even over Hilary, unless she gets her shit together. But it's never going to happen. Trump strategists have to be loving this, though. Back in December I said that the Machine needs to solidify in order to take on Trump, and it's utterly failing to do that. Rubio's not going to drop on the basis of this drubbing, Bush sees himself as surging, and Cruz wouldn't quit unless he somehow hallucinated Jesus coming to take him to Heaven. (ob-900-ft-Jesus reference)
So with four plausible candidates coming out of NH rather than the two one might've expected it's going to be extremely tough to stop Trump now. Not impossible, but I don't see a clear path to doing it. Which means, if you're a national Republican strategist you alternately rejoice, weep, and refill your Xanax prescription. And pray Bernie wins, because Trump can much more easily go all junkyard dog on a white-haired grandpa than he can on a woman. Trump can't even manage to have a courteous relationship with a far-right news anchor if she happens to be female and his mouth-frothing is going to alienate the center, badly. They may not like Hilary, but Trump's negatives already register large.
Speaking of the Democrats, holy moley did Clinton get drubbed. She lost the youth vote - no surprise there - but she also lost among women, who are supposed to be big supporters. She lost the late deciders and she lost (really badly) among people who said they cared about a candidate's "trustworthiness". Clinton has an authenticity problem, an array of image problems, and is floundering to find a message that connects. Supposedly she's got a strong base in voters of color (black and Latino particularly) but that's what they said about female voters, too. Democrats can't win without those voters, but I would say Sanders has a chance to make up ground there. It's telling that from New Hampshire he didn't fly to South Carolina - instead he went to Harlem to sit down with Rev. Al Sharpton. Bernie needs to pick up a big-name endorsement from a national Black or Latino figure; Clinton needs to shut him out and attack his missteps in relating to voters of color. I'm told attack ads are already on the air in SC; it will be interesting to see how focused on this Clinton gets in the next debate. Unless Bernie flubs badly I think this one's going to be very close.