Must Ted Cruz win the February 20th South Carolina primary in order to have a clear path to the Republican nomination? In a word, no. While a distant second to Donald Trump could prove catastrophic, that is highly unlikely. Cruz need only place highly enough against the favored Trump and let the rest of field battle for elimination.
1.) Cruz has the cash to compete. He invested little campaign cash or time in New Hampshire but came away with an unexpected third place finish, and surprised by finishing ahead of both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
The entire week prior to the vote, Cruz’s polling numbers remained remarkably steady while others jockeyed for position. It is testament to a smart campaign strategy, knowing they wouldn’t win but working and investing just enough to make a good showing. And while final percentages of the top five finishers is all most people see, the numbers behind them tell a different story. NRO details the carnage to the other campaigns:
Even more important, Cruz spent very few resources on New Hampshire: less than $1 million combined between the campaign and super PACs. Compare that to Bush, whose combined efforts spent $35 million in New Hampshire, while Christie spent $18 million, Rubio $15 milllion and Kasich $12 million. All of them were beaten by Cruz in a state that was supposed to be a bad fit for him.