Dropout Watch: The Iowa Casualties

The first contest of the 2016 race shows some contenders the door

It may take them minutes, hours, days or even weeks to come to the realization, but for a handful of the remaining GOP candidates for president, a lackluster performance in Iowa is a death knell.

Republican former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Democrat former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley led the pack, not even waiting until morning to announce they would be suspending their campaigns.

These others lack the resources to continue for very long, and the outcome in Iowa just changed the playing field. Here are the candidates who LifeZette expects to be reassessing the results meaning Tuesday morning.

Rick Santorum
Santorum is in the worst shape of any GOP contender, with the exception of non-entity former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. A surprise impressive finish in Iowa was the last hope for the candidate, who has a dismal $42,920 cash on hand. Santorum has spent nearly all the funds he’s raised focusing on the Hawkeye State. The former Pennsylvania senator is sitting at 0.2 percent in the New Hampshire Real Clear Politics polling average, and not much better at 0.3 percent in South Carolina. A late boost in Iowa was the only hope to keep this campaign alive. Santorum got 1 percent. The second-time presidential candidate has indicated he would exit the race after a poor result in Iowa. Goodbye sweater vest — for good.

Rand Paul
The Kentucky senator has drawn a Democrat opponent in his home state, where he should return to lock down his seat. Given the early hype surrounding him, Paul’s lasting inability to break into the top-tier has been one of the great surprises of 2016. With a poor 5 percent showing in Iowa, Paul will likely hang on through New Hampshire.

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But with just $1.27 million on hand, he looks more like a strong incumbent senator faced with a re-election race than a presidential candidate poised to break-through. With just one week until New Hampshire, it’s hard to see how Paul will generate enough momentum to gain a fresh look in the 2016 contest.

Carly Fiorina
Fiorina has enough money in the bank to continue on in the contest, but no apparent path to the nomination. The next GOP Debate hosted by ABC News and IJ Review will be without an undercard debate, leaving Fiorina without a platform to gain any traction. There is no early state that stands out as a natural Fiorina target, and while she has $4.5 million to continue the fight, that is not enough to challenge the multi-state contests that kick off with Super Tuesday on March 1. Fiorina sits at 3.8 percent in the latest RCP average of New Hampshire and at 1.7 percent in South Carolina. The former Hewlett-Packard executive may hang on for as long as possible, though, hoping a winnowed field will gain her a fresh look or allow her to continue showing off her vice-presidential potential.

Ben Carson
Carson’s inclusion in a post-Iowa dropout watch runs against much conventional wisdom. The former renowned neurosurgeon raised more money than any other GOP candidate in the fourth quarter of 2015, pulling in a whopping $22.6 million. Carson also fits the mold of the 2016 race as a nonpolitician in the year of the outsider. But Carson is likely finished. The doctor, who once led the Iowa polls, came in at a 10 percent Monday night, good enough for fourth place.

But that fourth-place finish was after blowing through over $47 million, all but $6.6 million of his once formidable war chest. He needed a surprisingly strong finish to regain some juice headed into New Hampshire, where he notches 3.2 percent on the RCP average, and South Carolina, where he fares a little better at 8.7 percent. It didn’t happen. Carson’s only hope for a return to the forefront will now be a very unlikely total collapse from Cruz.

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