Donald Trump: A step closer
The New York billionaire real-estate developer and reality-TV star is a step closer to, as he puts it, "running the table." Trump has two wins — in South Carolina and New Hampshire — and a second in Iowa in the first three races. He will need to keep his cool, however, as attacks intensify, aiming to slow his populist campaign. Trump also must learn to govern his mouth — no more potty language, easily misunderstood quips or George W. Bush-lied comments.
Ted Cruz: If not South Carolina, where can he win?
The U.S. senator from Texas will keep scratching for delegates in a half-dozen-plus upcoming primaries with large numbers of evangelical Christian voters. But, having lost a golden opportunity to win in South Carolina, Cruz must figure out how to succeed in states where socially conservative issues are less important. Cruz also must counter his mounting image as “nasty” and a dirty campaigner.
Mario Rubio: DeMint protege is hope for establishment?
In South Carolina, the U.S. senator from Florida finally became the candidate who poses the biggest long-term challenge to Trump and Cruz. Rubio recovered from his New Hampshire debate and primary debacles to punch the “establishment” ticket out of South Carolina. Having the endorsements of Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Rep, Trey Gowdy was huge. And he should get a boost from Jeb Bush supporters now that his one-time mentor has left the race.
John Kasich: Lives to fight another day
The Ohio governor — whose strong point is his reasonableness in an odd field — gets to live another day with Michigan and Ohio ahead. Kasich won fans in South Carolina by being the race's most moderate, pragmatic candidate. The primary’s most-lasting image may be his hug of a young man at a rally in Clemson. But how long can Kasich last when he's so far behind the leaders?
Jeb Bush: End of an era
It’s over. South Carolina was supposed to be the state where the former Florida governor's campaign turned around from its stumbling start. But that didn't happen despite spending the most money of any candidate-PAC on the airwaves and bringing in his brother, a former president, and mother, a former first lady, to stump for him. How fast can he repair his relationship with Rubio after all those attack ads?
Ben Carson: It’s over — even if he doesn’t quit
While Carson insisted Saturday that he will not quit, his race is done. The retired Maryland neurosurgeon invested in South Carolina and had some early success, raising more money in the state last year than any other GOP candidate. Of all the candidates, S.C. voters said the soft-spoken Carson was the most likeable. But his prospects dimmed as questions increased about his ability to handle foreign policy.